20 Percent of Consumers Could Dump Cable in 2016, Study Finds

A report by PricewaterhouseCoopers finds dissatisfaction with bundle is driving customers to join cord-cutting trend

Around 20 percent of cable customers could become cord cutters in 2016, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In a study released Wednesday, the research firm found that the percentage of U.S. consumers who said they could see themselves subscribing to cable fell to 79 percent in 2015 from 91 percent in 2015. Based on that finding, the study predicts a further decline in 2015, possibly by as much as 20 percent.

According to the survey, the drop in enthusiasm for pay TV is being driven by frustration with the traditional cable programming bundle and the lack of consumer choice that comes with it. Asked what could get them to resubscribe to cable, 56 percent of cord cutters responded “being able to customize my package to exactly the channels that I want.” Among current subscribers, 45 percent said that they would prefer an a la carte option to the existing bundle.

The study also found that 23 percent of subscribers have engaged in so-called “cord-trimming” in the past year, scaling back on their pay-TV subscriptions. Five percent of consumers identified as “cord-nevers,” people who have never had pay TV.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers study — titled “Videoquake 3.0: The Evolution of TV’s Revolution” — comes amid growing industry anxiety over cable cord-cutting. Last month, the Walt Disney Co. reported severe subscriber losses for its cable channels, including ESPN, which lost 7 million customers over a two year period.

The revelation of subscriber loss in a regulatory filing loss came months after Disney CEO Bob Iger inadvertently sparked a massive sell-off of media-company stocks over fears of cable cord-cutting with comments about “some subscriber losses” at ESPN.

Speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York Tuesday, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes downplayed cord-cutting fears.

“We haven’t seen any tipping point” in cord-cutting by consumers, Bewkes said. “There’s been a longstanding adoption, habit and loyalty to this set of channels, and they’re getting better.”