Cord cutting was so bad last year that pay-TV penetration is down to 1994 levels

Crank up the Weezer and throw yourself a My So-Called Life watch party tonight, because the cable-TV industry just hit a totally retro milestone.

Cord cutting accelerated at such a rapid pace last year that the penetration of U.S. households paying for traditional TV services is down to levels not seen since the mid-1990s, according to a new report from analyst firm MoffettNathanson.

Over the course of 2020, cable and satellite TV companies shed 6 million subscribing households, the firm estimates, a decline of 7.3%.

And the rise of cable-like streaming services—such as Sling, YouTube TV, and Hulu’s live TV service—has not been dramatic enough to make up the difference, since only about one-third of cord cutters subscribed to an over-the-top equivalent.


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