A technician working for Dish Network, which has begun offering marketing and customer support to other TV providers. Photo by Bloomberg
Media/Telecom

As Cord-Cutting Speeds Up, Cable Operators Start to Surrender

Photo: A technician working for Dish Network, which has begun offering marketing and customer support to other TV providers. Photo by Bloomberg

Braintree Electric Lighting Department, an electric utility in Braintree, Massachusetts, has been selling broadband and television services to its 16,500 customers for roughly two decades. But over the past few years it has been losing a couple of dozen TV customers per month as people opt to watch their favorite TV shows and movies online. After months of debate, the company earlier this year decided to get out of the TV business altogether, effective in December. In future, it will help customers who want video sign up for streaming services offered by other companies.

After years of fighting cord-cutting, cable operators are starting to wave the white flag. A growing number of small providers are abandoning the TV business and helping customers find alternatives, either through streaming or via satellite TV services they used to compete with. Others, notably CableOne of Phoenix, are sticking with video but putting less effort into keeping would-be cord-cutters in the fold with big discounts. Even cable giant Comcast is moving in that direction, by emphasizing it won't chase "unprofitable" video subscribers.

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