The Next 10 Years Look Pretty Good for Cable

Good news on the home front: A new research report by SNL Kagan predicts a rosy future for the U.S. cable industry, despite oft-repeated assertions from naysayers that rampant cord-cutting would lead to its demise.

Cord-cutting isn’t going away, but cable companies’ efforts to stem the phenomenon have apparently been working. The researchers behind the report attribute the expected uptick to two factors: broadband and bundling.

According to the report, from the period of 2016 to 2026, residential revenues will increase from about $108 billion to $117 billion, and commercial revenues will contribute to an increase in total industry revenue from $103 billion to $140 billion.

The bulk of that revenue, however, is due to high-speed internet subscriptions. Cable companies’ share of the U.S. broadband market is expected to grow substantially, increasing by more than 8 million users over the next 10 years. That’s 1.6 times the number of projected video subscriptions.

Cord-cutting will continue, but at a slower rate than in the past.

In fact, cord-cutting is less worrisome than cord-shaving, according to Lenoir and Olgeirson. Even if fewer people cut the cord completely, most aren’t likely to stop looking for small ways to shave their cable bill. In fact, the total revenue generated from residential video services is expected to fall at a CAGR of -0.5 percent in the years to come. Trading down impacts not only cable companies but cable networks as well, making the trend even more impactful.

Still, the big picture is optimistic. As the researchers explain, “Like many industries, cable isn’t immune to shifting preferences, but continued growth in broadband may propel revenue growth on both the residential and commercial end. Despite ongoing declines in video, the next 10 years look pretty good for this sector.”

Cable operators are clearly finding ways to stay relevant into the near future, but who knows what changes the next 10 years will bring? What the future cable company looks like is anyone’s guess.