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Will Millennials Be the Death of Cable Television?

Though the generation which first embraced cable television are increasingly cutting the cord, we’re not seeing cable television being abandoned anywhere nearly as quickly as many initially predicted. However, millennials are proving to be much more willing to turn to streaming services. Indeed, the millennial’s preference for on-demand content may eventually be the death of cable TV.

In 2015, the major pay-tv providers only lost 385,000 subscribers, according to Leichtman Research Group.  Whilst that’s a substantial increase on the 125,000 that cut the cord in 2014, it is still, in a world with more than 94-million homes, barely a drop in the water.


But, whilst these figures may be fairly comforting to cable television companies, it’s perhaps not their existing customers that they need to worry about, but their future ones. Millennials (those born between 1982 and 2000) are increasingly choosing streaming services over traditional television, and, according to a new study from Limelight Networks, are more than happy to cut the cord (if they ever had one) so long as the content they want is available online.

According to Limelight Network’s study, it is now the case that nearly 80 percent of millennials subscribe to at least one over-the-top streaming service (up from 68 percent on figures from May 2015), and many of these are watching more than 10 hours’ worth of streamed content a week (currently around 22.8 percent). Even more worrying is the fact that a staggering 90 percent admit that they would be willing to get rid of cable under the right circumstances.

The attraction of streamed content is clear: more choice; high quality, original content; lower prices; and the ability to fit television watching habits around one’s life.

So what can cable providers do to keep up?

Even if it’s prospects don’t look great, traditional cable television is not dead yet. However, if the industry does not adapt to meet the millennials’ requirements, it’s days are certainly numbered. In an attempt to stay relevant, some cable providers are now offering smaller packages of channels, and some have attempted to establish a presence online. Even so, unless cable finds a way to give millennials (or the “spoilt” generation) the chance to watch what they want, when they want to, then this will likely not be enough.

Millennials now make up more than a quarter of the US and UK populations, and they’re just about ready to start getting married and set up their own households. As it stands, traditional cable television is not a particularly enticing option, and, until cable providers find a way to make their offering more appealing, the amount of millennials ditching cable in favour of on demand options will continue to increase. At that point, the number of cable subscribers will plummet.

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