Small cable companies dropping TV in favor of Internet

It may be the beginnings of a trend: a number of smaller cable TV providers have found that business is as good or better if they supply simply broadband, and not TV.

For one thing, the providers don’t have to pay for rising TV programming costs, which hit smaller companies harder than the giants.

But, in many cases, the providers are simply responding to changes in consumer desires. As The Wall Street Journal wrote, “Some operators say they are gradually being pushed out of the TV business as subscribers drop their expensive TV subscriptions and watch shows on cheaper Internet video services.”

We tend to focus on the major providers – like Comcast, Time Warner and Cox – but 14 percent of Americans receive their cable from companies with a million subscribers or fewer, in some case much fewer. Little-known companies such as Ringgold Telephone Co. in Georgia and BTC Broadband in Bixby, Oklahoma have just pulled the plug on TV. Other companies are going part way. Suddenlink Communications, with a million subscribers, is about to drop all Viacom programming, including MTV and Nickelodeon.

Overall, cable and satellite TV providers lost ground last year for the first time, shedding 167,000 subscribers.

Although this trend may force changes for TV production and distribution, it is also a positive one for consumers. Broadband-enabled video allows viewers choice to pay only for the programs they want, rather than the cable-imposed bundle. And that’s a good thing.

More Cable Companies Take TV Off Menu (Wall Street Journal, Sep. 30, 2014)