Cable hits 21-year low as alternative delivery systems gain share

Quick quiz. What were you doing 21 years ago? If you said "watching cable television" you are among the same sized group that claims to be still watching cable TV today. Unlike 21 years ago, though, when subscription rates were climbing, this figure's an industry bummer.

TVB.org combed through November Nielsen data and determined that alternative delivery systems (ADS) accounted for 30.5 percent of all viewers and that cable fell to 60.7 percent, its lowest number since November 1989 when penetration was at 59.7 percent. The TVB, for the uninitiated, was formerly the Television Bureau of Advertising, which is important because it looks at the way local advertising is purchased and has determined that "local cable commercials are not seen in ADS homes."

Now the bigger question is what all this means for retransmission of local signals: are they worth more or less to cable operators or ADS delivery systems like telcos, satellite and over-the-top systems? The second big question is part of the pop quiz: Were you, 21 years ago, hooked up to a broadband pipe?

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Related articles:
IPTV gains 414,000 subscribers; cable loses 711,000 in 2Q
Cable subscribers learning that the buck stops in their mailbox
Harris Poll: 1-in-5 Americans cutting back on cable

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