“Major” Cable Pay-TV Provider to Cease Service in 2023? I Think Not.

I read with interest the “bold prediction” of David Bloom at Next TV that a “major” cable company will drop MVPD services altogether in 2023. Bold, indeed.

First, what is a “major” cable TV provider? Only four cable companies (exclusive of telco and satellite providers) have more than one million subscribers, which I consider a very generous minimum to qualify as a “major” provider. These four companies include Comcast, Charter, Cox, and Altice. The next closest in terms of pay TV subscribers is Mediacom, which has roughly half a million subs.

Which of these four companies will drop pay TV services altogether in 2023? None.

The company most likely to shutter pay TV altogether in 2023 is Cable ONE, which (1) recently announced it would cease offering services to MDUs and hotels, and (2) has only 213,00 subscribers as of Q3 2022. For the record, even if all the pay TV providers with less than one million subscribers shuttered in 2023, it would still only account for 2.8 million subscribers of the current 40.4 million, or roughly 7%, hardly a final death blow to the US pay TV industry. Moreover, a good percentage of these subscribers could end up shifting to virtual pay TV services, and thus stay on the MVPD balance sheet.

To predict a “major” cable company will close in 2023 is certainly headline-worthy but is ultimately of little significance when “major” includes a company with little more than 200,000 paid subscribers.