The Decline of Cable TV: Why Millions Are Cutting the Cord

As a small business consultant, I often advise entrepreneurs on cost-effective marketing strategies. In today‘s fragmented media landscape, cable TV no longer provides the reach it once did. This guides many of my recommendations. Understanding the major ongoing shifts in cable subscriptions helps small businesses best allocate their precious advertising dollars.

Cable TV Subscribership Keeps Plummeting

The numbers speak for themselves – traditional cable TV is declining rapidly year after year. Here are some of the most striking statistics:

  • As of Q1 2023, there were 75.5 million pay TV subscribers, down 7% from the previous year (Variety)
  • 53% of US TV households have never had cable TV (EnterpriseAppsToday)
  • Longtime market leader Comcast lost over 500,000 subscribers in Q2 2023 alone (Hollywood Reporter)

Why exactly are millions of households cutting the cord? The content offerings and convenience of on-demand streaming services are clearly major factors. But we‘ll analyze the underlying drivers behind this monumental shift in more detail throughout this article.

Reasons for the Declines

There are $100+ billion reasons actually. With average monthly bills continuing to rise past $100, cost tops the list of why US households are abandoning traditional cable packages. But it‘s not the only driver behind the mass exodus.


The cost of the average cable package has risen faster than inflation for years. Housing, food, healthcare – Americans are getting squeezed by rising prices across the board. So it‘s no wonder costly cable bills get cut when money gets tight. And researchers expect the overall Pay TV market to keep commanding higher and higher prices, exceeding $200 billion by 2030 (Gitnux).

Table 1
Projected Rising Costs of Pay TV Market

Year Total Market Value
2020 $184 billion
2030 $209 billion

With new streaming services entering the market almost monthly, budget-conscious consumers have an expanding array of cheaper options to choose from. The flexibility of paying only for the content you want makes services like Netflix and Hulu difficult for cable to compete with on costs.


There‘s also a strong demographic component to the cable decline. Younger generations are leading the way in cutting the cord. Millennials and Gen Z tend to be more tech-savvy, mobile-first viewers. To them, being tethered to a TV on someone else‘s schedule makes less and less sense.

These younger generations also value and demand more consumer choice. Cable‘s take-it-or-leave-it bundles simply don‘t align with how Millennials and Gen Z expect to consume content.

While cable will fight tooth and nail to stay relevant with these large demographics, long-term shifts in consumer behavior pose huge challenges for cable‘s business model.

What This Means for Small Business Owners

The fragmentation of TV and video viewership across platforms presents both challenges and opportunities for small business marketers. Cable TV remains an expensive advertising option, but still offers reach, especially for local audiences. Integrating over-the-top (OTT) and streaming ads can help small businesses get in front of younger demographics who increasingly don‘t watch cable TV.

There‘s no one-size-fits-all answer. As your trusted small business consultant, I‘m here to help entrepreneurs navigate these complex, ever-changing dynamics of video advertising. Let‘s have a conversation about your target audience, budget and marketing objectives. Together, we can develop an optimized media plan tailored to your unique business goals. The rise of streaming may have doomed cable‘s subscriber growth, but for savvy small businesses it opens exciting new ways to reach potential customers.