Is the cable and satellite industry heading for a slow and painful death?

There's a fair chance that most every house built 30 years ago had cable installed in it.

Not long afterwards satellite began to take off, and continued to eat into the market of companies like Comcast, CableVision and others. That's a logical progression, as new options give people better choices and channel numbers increased, along with premium options.

But that trend is now on the downside. According to a 2014 report in USA Today cord-cutters (those with neither cable nor satellite) rose from 4.5 per cent in 2010 to 6.5 per cent as of that time.

Meanwhile, the same month saw a study from Leichtman Research Group reveal that the top nine cable companies lost a total of 510,000 subscribers in the second quarter of 2014. Satellite fared little better, shedding 78,000 customers.

The news wasn't all bad when 2014 is taken as a whole, but the gains were minimal. "Over the past year, the top pay-TV providers actually had a small net gain of about 20,000 subscribers, compared to a cumulative net loss of about 70,000 subscribers over the prior year", stated Bruce Leichtman of LRG at the time of the report.

Obviously cord cutting continues to enjoy gains, which is good news for companies like Roku, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and new kid on the block Sling TV. The latter should likely scare providers the most as it brings something previously not available - live sports with several ESPN networks and Universal Sports Network.

Using a combination of the above services a customer can chop a $100 per month bill in half - more depending on services chosen. The savings comes largely from the lack of hundreds of channels, many of which most users will never watch. For years people asked for a-la-carte TV and providers ignored the plea. Now they are finding what happens when you don't listen to the user base.

So where is the industry headed? The writing on the wall seems pretty clear - companies like Comcast are destined to end up as ISPs only. It's not happening overnight, of course.

The user base is still too large and it will take time. But the snowball seems to be picking up momentum on its trip down the hill. The only question seems to be "when will it reach the bottom?"

Now it's up to you to chime in and let us know your feelings. There are many cord-cutters in our audience, but we'd love hear from both sides.

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