YouTube TV and Hulu Announcements Suggest Cord-Cutting's at a Tipping Point

Cord-cutting is no longer edgy; it's just, like, financially responsible.

Plopping down in front of your mom’s TV, scrolling through the cable channels and stumbling across your favorite episode of MTV’s Catfish - and, yes, it’s just starting! - is one of life’s simple pleasures. It’s a pleasure that’s helped the traditional cable-box endure despite endlessly growing list of new streaming options: At 94 million, households with traditional TV packages still outnumber cord-cutters by almost two-to-one, according to 2018 data from eMarketer.

Also helping the cable box endure? Holdout networks and access to sports programming that the cable providers were still able to provide often exclusively. But with Youtube TV officially going nationwide, (just in time for the 2019 Super Bowl, we might add) that may be finally about to change. For $40 a month, subscribers across 98 percent of the United States can access live content from over 60 networks, from local news to sports to Sunday cartoons. The remaining two percent of households are expected to gain access over the next few months. That sound you hear? That’s the pay-TV providers gulping nervously.

About 150 million people watch Netflix once a month, but most of them also appear to have cable packages. 

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YouTube TV’s expansion - the streaming platform was previously only available for households in the top 100 television markets - spells big trouble for the cable and satellite industries, who have relied, in part, on the business of sports fans in smaller, American communities to keep their business models above water. These consumers, who tend to skew older, want live, local coverage; YouTube TV now offers those experiences, plus content from major networks (like ABC, NBC and FOX) and popular cable networks (including FX, ESPN and TNT). For, like, half the cost of a monthly cable bill.

Since 2013, pay-TV subscriptions have steadily fallen ten percent nationwide, with 2017 seeing an exodus of roughly 1.5 million users. A survey presented at last year’s VidCon found an additional eight percent of current subscribers seriously considering cancelling their cable service at some point over the next year. And millennials have ushered in a new market trend: “Never-cords,” consumers who have only ever relied on streaming platforms. Yeah, yeah, we know, we ruin stuff.

But as YouTube TV takes effect today, it might be officially time to admit: Cord-cutting no longer requires cutting yourself off from potentially important sources of content (it also may be getting cheaper, with Hulu slashing prices the day of YouTube’s announcement).

That suggests that cord-cutting is no longer simply a lifestyle choice for those people who love to say their favorite movie is a book. With the exception of a few FOX and ABC affiliate stations, streaming platforms can now offer viewers the same content they’ve always watched - just in a slightly different format, and without the $100 plus a month bill. Especially for TV lovers, cord-cutting has simply become financially responsible.

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