Cable TV Pricing: Up, Down Or Sideways? Content Prognosis For The Long Term

The focus on pricing of pay TV programming bundles remains strong -- in surveys and among industry analysts.

One major operator is now leaving it in the hands of consumers when it comes to a key programming part of the bundle: local TV stations.

Satellite and virtual (digital) pay TV distributor DirecTV now offers a significant $12-a-month savings on a typical monthly subscription if viewers are no longer interested in local TV station content -- primarily, it seems local TV news content.

This comes as consumers are increasingly moving to streaming for much of their broadcast TV-like programming experience, which has driven cord-cutting of overall pay TV subscriptions.

One broader survey from provides a somewhat more long-term analysis of pricing and other factors -- with the idea consumers have a vision going forward.



The survey of 1,000 people conducted on Feb. 6, 2024 specifically focuses on longtime traditional bundles from cable TV distributors such as Comcast Corp., Charter Communications, and Altice USA. Cable TV operators still command the largest number of subscribers in the legacy pay TV system. According to industry estimates, are there are currently around 35 million of around 55 million currently.

The survey found that about a third of those with cable believe they will still have it from those traditional cable operators for “the next few years,” while 19% of cable subscribers say “they won't have it for more than a year.” 

Is that good news? Cord-cutting of around 8% to 10% per year still occurs.

Longer-term, 50% say they would cancel their cable packages if a price increase occurs, with 20% saying they would cancel if they lost interest in what they regularly watch on cable.

Two areas of focus for cable TV these days are around sports and news. When asked why they pay for cable, 27% say they have cable to watch live sports, while 11% say it is to watch news and another 11% say it's for live entertainment events.

Most surveys about cable or other pay TV products have not asked whether consumers will stick around longer-term if pay TV providers lower their pricing for more standard pay TV packages.

We may already have a hint. While pay TV distributors do sell lower-priced options -- cable and virtual among them -- that business doesn't seem to stem the tide of consistent cord-cutting.

With DirecTV's decision to trim back on local over-the-air TV stations, yet another move in that direction -- and perhaps other content/channels to come -- what's left to do?  

1 comment about "Cable TV Pricing: Up, Down Or Sideways? Content Prognosis For The Long Term".
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  1. Ben B from Retired, March 19, 2024 at 7:52 p.m.

    I think that local TV stations need to be included in basic packages in my opinion I have a feeling that the FCC & NAB, don't like DirecTV idea for those that don't want local TV stations which I don't think is all that a big savings in my opinion. I wouldn't get rid of the local TV stations as I said last night. I like to watch shows live and sports as well along on those days when you have to be weather aware got to have the locals. 

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