Peak Cable

Horace Dediu, ASYMCO:

As the graph above shows, Cable TV has declined (though Pay TV much less so). The industry has reached saturation decades ago and has not offered anything meaningful in terms of innovation.

DVR is a meaningful innovation, but ReplayTV, TiVo, or some other small company thinking out of the box probably invented it, not cable companies. The monopolists just bought them with their big pile of money.

Users are cutting cords, the “uncabled” or “never-cabled” are a significant portion of the population. 13.5% of broadband households with an adult under 35 have no pay-TV subscriptions. 8.6 million US households have broadband Internet but no pay-TV subscription. That’s 7.3% of households, up from 4.2% in 2010. Another 5.6 million households “are prime to be among the next wave of cord-cutters,” according to Experian.

We haven’t had cable in many years, and I don’t feel like we’re missing anything. Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime Instant Video help. But cable does have a trump card: sports. If just three sports leagues in the U.S. — the National Football League (NFL), Major League Baseball (MLB), and the National Basketball Association (NBA) — started streaming sports online and via mobile apps, cable’s monopoly will soon thereafter collapse.