Millennials are Breaking up with Cable
By: Liliana Teran
San Antonio hairdresser, Alyssa Romo, broke up with cable back in 2015. She had ended her four-year relationship and was left to pay all the bills herself. Two incomes suddenly became one — so saving money was her top priority. Cable was the first thing to go.
For many people going without cable is not an option but Romo had good reasons to part with it.
“It’s expensive, there’s nothing good on TV and I don’t have time,” she said as she shrugs her shoulders and gives a blank expression of dissatisfaction. Whenever she does manage to make time for “Netflix and chill”, she gets in her onesie, grabs her wineglass, popcorn and her sister’s Netflix and Hulu login. We all know that one person who leeches off others for their streaming account.
Apart from Netflix and Hulu, Romo has a free trial for Amazon Prime (Amazon Prime provides new student users a free six-month-trial. All you need is a school email and credit or debit card.). This means she is currently paying zero dollars for video streaming. All she pays is $40 for internet through AT&T.
The 28-year-old is just one of many millennials who are are cutting the cord from cable. New Nielsen research on the media habits of the 18-to-34 age group suggests that the decision to go without cable or satellite service and rely exclusively on internet streaming video might last only until millennials start families or are more financially stable.
Cable is the dominant mode of TV delivery for all age groups, but nearly a fifth of younger adults don’t subscribe and are content to connect their TV to the internet or use antennas for broadcast.
Romo, being single and having no children, fits this description. But we wanted more answers from millennials in different situations.
Jesse Ryder, 33, went for years without cable until his kids started demanding it.
“Once my kids got older, I knew it was time to get cable. It can be pricey, but I did it for them,” he said with a smile while strategically keeping one eye on both his children as they ran around the Pearl dog park on a recent Sunday afternoon.
As a family man, Ryder attempts to do what he can to keep his children happy and entertained long enough for him to “jump in the shower and return some emails.” Cable provides his kids with multiple stimulating and educational channels to choose from and he enjoys his movie and sports package, all which are at an extra cost.
Like many who try to save where they can, Ryder bundled his services; phone, cable and internet, however he still coughs up $115 a month for AT&T cable. Ryder also pays $8 a month for Hulu.
“Watching TV with my family has always been something I enjoy,” Ryder said as he held hands with his 11-year-old daughter who was using his arm as a swing. Sitting down and watching TV with his wife and children allows him to bond and create “family time,” which is very important.
Michael Julius Jr, 34, is also a family man with cable. He pays “about $100 a month” for a Time Warner Cable bundle that includes phone, internet and cable. On top of that he also pays $11 a month for Netflix. “I like having many choices,” he said.
Unlike Ryder, Julius has cable for his own viewing pleasure. “I like cable because the variety of news, tv shows, movies and sports.” This means his 2-year-old has no influence on whether he has cable or not. “She’s too small for TV right now,” he said as he pointed to his daughter’s stroller where she was sleeping.
“I’ve had cable my whole life” he said as he tilted his head back to take moment to think about his anwer. “Ever since I was a little boy. I’ve always had cable.” I could tell by the expression on his face that even his own answer was shocking.
History major Sean Sterling, 29, has been without cable for the past three years. “I don’t have time to sit down and watch TV. So I think it's pointless paying a bill that’s overpriced for something I hardly use.” All Sterling owns is an Amazon TV Fire Stick that he purchased for a one time $50 fee.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick, like Netflix and Hulu, allows you to stream TV shows and movies online. Difference is the Fire Stick doesn’t have a monthly fee.
“Everything I miss I can eventually see online or via Fire Stick,” he said as he scrolled up and down his Fire Stick app to show me his online account. When he does get the urge to watch a certain program on TV, like the Superbowl, he makes his way to a local bar with his friends, or to a friend’s house. “Mostly a bar,” he said as he laughs at his own statement.
Aside from the Fire Stick, Sterling also mooches off his friend by using their Netflix account. That means he pays zero dollars for streaming and like Romo only pays for internet. And since he has roommates, his share for the internet is only $25 a month. It’s no wonder why this millennial cut the cord.
One thing is certain, cable is a tougher sell to millennials. Media consumption habits are changing fast especially among young adults ages 18 to 34. Many do without it once they live in their own homes or have children. According to Nielsen research, millennial households without children are the least likely to have cable. Instead one quarter use the Internet or antennas.
Dr. Brian Brantley, communications professor has his own input on why millenials are pulling the cord. “Easiest reason is money,” he said. The “second reason” he said is “digital content that’s available through internet.”
According to Brantley, whether you choose Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, or any other internet streaming option, getting to watch what you actually want is now possible. Not just that, but it’s easy. All you need is an internet connection and a streaming service. “20 years ago we didn’t have so many options,” he said. He added that streaming online allows you to “access the programs that only you want to watch.”
In the end it appears that people are going to pursue the more affordable option. Millennials face paying an average monthly cable bill of $105—with channels they don’t watch or want—or paying about $55 for internet and a Netflix or a Hulu subscription.