December 4, 2019 6:52 pm

Pay TV decline is making live TV’s future bleak

Pay-TV decline is making live TV's future bleak

Even with live TV services to complement their declining pay TV, big cable providers are suffering. Many consumers are losing interest in live TV.

This certainly doesn’t bode well for pay TV giants, because much of the way we’ve consumed entertainment for years is through in-the-moment broadcasts. That’s simply not going to be the way of the world anymore, according to data from an Adweek report (h/t Cord Cutters News).

The numbers don’t lie

Cord-cutting is certainly the way home entertainment is going. However, it’s rather shocking that MoffettNathanson reports 60 percent of canceling pay TV customers aren’t even going in for the live alternatives.


That is to say, it seems people are content to get whatever news or entertainment they’d consume from traditional TV either through the Internet or via streaming services.

With the rampant emergence of streaming giants of late, those platforms can satisfy anyone’s movie or TV desires. However, it’s a little more surprising fewer people want anything to do with live TV overall.

Drink the streaming Kool-Aid

Some of the streamers outside of pay TV brands who offer live TV alternatives include Hulu and YouTube. But Hulu has hiked up their prices recently, and YouTube TV seems intent on doing the same.

On the other hand, YouTube TV was part of the data gathered by MoffettNathanson. Not only does that service offer the best live TV sports, but it’s also got huge upside. And it’s cost-effective.


Maybe the other 40 percent cited in research aren’t sports fanatics. Who knows? Well, we do know from MoffettNathanson that 60 percent of pay TV subscribers are “regular sports viewers.”

What’s also certain is traditional TV powers NBC, CBS and HBO are all getting in on the streaming wars, pioneered by Netflix. NBC’s Peacock and HBO Max launch in April and May respectively. CBS’ merger with Viacom could result in another big streamer eventually.

Last month alone there were two giant streamers launched: Apple TV+ and Disney+.

None of this bodes well for the future of live TV. It wouldn’t be a shock to see exclusive sports TV rights go to streamers more frequently in the coming years.


With little need to broadcast new TV shows on live telecast, sports content going live on streamers and catalogs of all the best works on the small and silver screens, live TV may go extinct not long after pay TV.

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