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Cord Cutting Is Accelerating Rapidly, Research Firm Says

July 24, 2018, 10:00 AM UTC

An acceleration of people dropping their cable TV subscriptions prompted a leading research firm to increase its forecast of so-called cord cutting by 25%.

About 50 million people in total will have dropped cable or satellite TV subscriptions by 2021, eMarketer said in a forecast released on Tuesday. That’s almost 20 million more than today and 10 million more than then researchers estimated for 2021 just last year.

Consumers have long cited the increasing price of cable TV packages as the main reason for dropping the services. A study released last week found consumers could save on average $85 a month by cutting the cord. But the emergence of cheaper bundles of cable channels available over the Internet, like Google’s YouTube TV and Dish Network’s Sling TV, are also prompting more people to cut the cord, eMarketer said.

“Another factor driving the acceleration of cord-cutting is the availability of compelling and affordable live TV packages that are delivered via the internet without the need for installation fees or hardware,” principal analyst Paul Verna said in the report. “Consumers increasingly choose services on the strength of the programming they offer, and the platforms are stepping up with billions in spending on premium shows.”

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While the cable bundle replacements are growing, the main source of video entertainment for cord cutters remains popular Internet streaming services that eschew the channel line ups altogether. Google’s (GOOGL) YouTube pulls in 192 million U.S. viewers at least once month, followed by Netflix (NFLX) with 148 million monthly viewers, and Amazon’s Prime Video with 89 million viewers, eMarketer said.

According to the firm’s estimates, about 33 million consumers will have cut the cord by the end of this year, rising to 50 million in 2021 and 55 million in 2022. The percentage of adults no longer paying for cable or satellite TV will jump from 13% this year to 21% in 2022, the firm estimated.

The trend has taken a toll on the stock prices of cable providers. Comcast (CMCSA) shares are down 13% so far this year, shares of Charter Communications (CHTR) have lost 14%, and Altice USA (ATUS) shares are off 20%.