Watching TV Is Becoming Obsolete

The number of people paying for TV and Internet is shrinking — but that doesn’t mean people are giving up their favorite shows.


Except for a brief time — during the Olympics in August 2012 — TV ratings have been dropping for more than two years.

So says Business Insider, citing analysis from Citi Research. Major TV providers lost a combined 113,000 subscribers in the last quarter. Tally up the numbers going back to the beginning of 2010, and about 5 million people have dropped their subscriptions to cable and broadband.

Ratings for both broadcast and cable are down, Business Insider says. So are ratings for some major TV events, including the World Series and NBA Finals. You might think people are just less interested in those sports these days, but that’s not the whole story.

“We’re at the beginning of a major historical shift from watching TV to watching video — including TV shows and movies — on the Internet or on mobile devices,” Business Insider says. About 40 percent of all YouTube traffic comes from mobile devices, while the number of people who watch any TV at all has been declining since 2010.

The cable companies may even be accelerating their own demise. “Even though cable TV has had its worst year ever, cable TV revenues are still rising because companies are charging the dwindling number of customers more in subscription fees,” Business Insider says. As more people decide it’s not worth the money, they’ll cut the cord too — and we’ve been explaining how in stories and videos like the one below.

While it’s conceivable that broadband Internet service could help cable companies, Business Insider says those numbers are dropping too. Instead, consumers are increasingly using free Wi-Fi to catch shows and movies they like. At least 57 U.S. cities offer free wireless Internet, plus tons of businesses don’t mind you hanging out and using theirs.

Have you dropped your cable or broadband subscriptions? Are you considering it? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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