Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Where Did the Cord-Cutters Go?

The problem with the cord-cutting narrative is that, while the story sounds sexy, there haven’t been numbers to back it up. Consumers might say that they’re ditching cable, en masse, in favor of Netflix, YouTube and Apple TV. But the pay-TV industry’s results haven’t supported that.

Latest example: It appears that the pay-TV guys actually increased their subscriber totals last quarter. Not by much — something like 240,000 new accounts, which translates into a growth rate of 0.2 percent — but an increase is an increase.

Chart via Bernstein Research (click to enlarge):

So what do you want to make of that? Not much, probably — just like the subscriber declines we’ve seen in previous quarters haven’t meant that much. If we saw a sustained move in one direction or another, that would be meaningful, but for now it’s more or less a flat line.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work