Cable vs. streaming compete to deliver the future of entertainment

Is it time to cut the cord and cancel your cable TV subscription in 2020?

Cable seems to be struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier in 2020, Fortune reported that over 1.6 million subscribers to five of the largest pay-TV companies cut service during the first quarter of the year, a 70% jump from a year earlier.

Also: AAUGH! We ditched cable for streaming and, like Charlie Brown, we all got a rock

ZDNet Recommends

The best streaming devices

Streaming your favorite shows has never been easier.

Read More

These figures seem to indicate that the future of cable does not look good. How are we getting our entertainment in 2020? Do we stream or watch cable, or are we paying for both?

Staples surveyed over 1,000 US respondents between Aug. 20 to Aug. 21, 2020, to find out how much they spend on their subscriptions, and how much time they spend watching these services.

The survey showed that three out of five (60%) of Americans are paying for both streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video, and a cable, or satellite TV subscription.

Respondents said they would find it hard to live without specialized TV content channels such as the Discovery Channel, ESPN, CNN, and FX.

Almost half (48%) of Americans do not plan to cut the cord on cable in 2020 during COVID-19, 28% are considering cutting the cable, and 24% do not have a cable TV subscription.

The primary reasons consumers would consider cutting the cord mainly are about cost. Almost half (47%) of respondents wish to reduce their monthly expenses.

Over one in ten (10.8%) pay over $160 per month for their cable or satellite TV services. Almost seven in 10 (68%) pay $48 or less per month for their streaming subscription.

Almost one in three (30%) say that cable TV providers continue to increase their prices. Almost one in four (24%) say that there is enough quality content currently available on streaming services.

Cable vs. streaming compete to deliver the future of entertainment zdnet


Respondents would cancel a cable TV subscription for Netflix (46%), Hulu (32%), Prime Video (31%), and Disney+ (26%). Other services like HBO Max, YouTube TV, and AppleTV+ were deemed to be nice-to-have by respondents, but not enough to warrant canceling a cable TV subscription.

The survey also showed that the time spent consuming content on streaming services per day has doubled from an average of one to two hours to two to four hours per day due to COVID-19.

Over two in five (43%) of respondents say they've subscribed to an additional one to two streaming services since the pandemic began.

But people do not want to limit their options at the moment -- especially as the pandemic seems to be gathering momentum.

Nielsen has reported that many have decided to continue to stay indoors and watch TV as they spend far more time indoors than they did before the pandemic.

Although many are canceling cable in 2020, the majority of viewers subscribe to streaming services and also keep their subscription to streaming services. Having both gives them the optimal scenario to choose what they want for a night's entertainment.