Are we ready to cut the cord on paid-for TV?

By Charlotte Causley, Account Director

Long gone are the days of clicking through Teletext pages or reading the TV Guide to see what programmes you wanted to watch over the next week – aside from the regularly scheduled soap slots.

Image credit: Outside the Beltway

According to a new report from Ernst & Young, 30% of UK viewers say streaming is now their primary mode of viewing TV and film content at home as many consumers are continuing to ‘cut the cord’ on paid-for TV services and control their own viewing experiences. This is the same story across the pond too; in fact twice as many (60%) US households have ditched the cable.

Simply put, ‘cord cutting’ is the term for cancelling cable packages in favour of streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hayu – while also using catch-up and on-demand services provided by traditional broadcasters.

Since the introduction of Netflix in 1997 – becoming more popular in 1999 when it first adopted a monthly subscription model and reaching 20 million subscribers by 2010 – video streaming has boomed, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Even traditional broadcasters are now having to follow suit and offer customers more flexible viewing platforms, with big names in the entertainment business also cashing in on this trend.

One of the players entering the market is Disney which will be launching its own on-demand service, aptly named Disney+. Slated for launch in Q4 this year, analysts are already predicting Disney will sign up over 55 million international subscribers in the first five years alone. Time will tell if it can hit that kind of scale.

One of the biggest drivers of this change is the large sums of money being pumped into developing and marketing new content – The Economist projected in June last year that Netflix was going to spend almost $13 billion on original programming in 2018.

Alongside this, the advances in HD quality, and now Ultra HD/4K, technology and faster broadband infrastructures has allowed the video streaming giants’ content to be viewed anywhere, across a range of devices, at any time and all in high quality. As a result, viewers are ditching paid-for TV in favour of the simplicity of streaming, while avoiding sign-up fees, confusing bundles and long-term contracts which typically come with cable packages.

Streaming providers have also mastered the art of cleverly using data to add value to the whole experience, personalising customer profiles and offering programme recommendations based on previous viewing. This beats the 30-word blurb you were given in the TV guide to help you decide what to watch…

During the last 20 years we’ve seen first-hand how the broadcast sector has experienced  rapid rates of change as it continues to meet consumer demand and remain up-to-date. It’s going to be interesting to see what developments are ahead in the race for subscriber numbers and whether the cord is going to be cut for good.

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