Cable One Prepares Final Exit from Cable TV

Nov 03, 2023

By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policyband

Those searching for proof that cable TV is dying need look no further than a company called Cable One. Actually, cable TV isn’t dying at Cable One; it’s being taken off life support.

Cable One ended the third quarter with 140,000 pay-TV customers, down 50,000 from the same quarter a year ago. If that trend continues sequentially, Cable One’s final exit from the cable TV business could happen by the end of 2025.

Shouldn’t a company with the word “cable” in its corporate name express horror at the demise of its vaunted cable TV franchise?

Sorry, not Cable One.

On a call with Wall Street analysts Thursday, Cable One CEO Julie Laulis said her Phoenix-based communications company is fully prepared to let cable TV die and move forward as an Internet-first provider on the strength of its 958,000 broadband subscriber base.

“… We are navigating the final stages of decline in our video product … As we draw down on our remaining video subscribers, we are preparing for an environment without a video business …” Laulis said.

Laulis explained that Cable One has been planning for this day for more than a decade. The company saw the power of streaming and wanted to retreat from a business certain to fade away, especially while the owners of cable channels like Disney and Discovery refused to break up the take-or-leave-it big bundle to stem defections to Netflix.

In the past, Laulis has said her company made little effort to convince cord cutters to stay on and sometimes referred them to streaming services like Hulu, Sling TV or Amazon Prime Video.

Cable One’s approach to ending the life of cable TV was a slow mercy killing – a euthanasia project conducted over many years.

Others have been less patient with patient.

For example, WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone announced in May a new partnership with YouTube TV that will see WOW! migrating its cable TV customers the Google affiliate and discontinue the marketing and selling of its TV services.

WOW! – which is expected to update Wall Street on the pace of this effort on Nov. 8 – had 110,000 cable subscribers as of June 30, 2023.

And then there’s Cascade Communications in Cascade, Iowa. (pop. 2,397). The tiny cable TV company announced today that it is shutting down service effective Dec. 31. General Manager Chris Summerall said rising programming and hardware costs made the enterprise untenable.