New Bedford Residents Cutting Cable at a Stunning Rate
If you or someone you know has decided to "cut the cord" since the pandemic, you are not alone. If New Bedford's proposed 2024 budget is accurate, there is an expectation that more and more people will be doing the exact same thing in the coming months and years.
While the city continues to grow its population, the number of cable subscribers is steadily declining. According to the New Bedford budget, there were 25,301 actual cable subscribers in 2020. That number fell slightly in 2021 to 24,345 subscribers. Cable subscribers dipped again in 2022. The latest official numbers just came out, and the cable picture is more serious than initially predicted in the graph below.
New Bedford dropped nearly 3,000 subscribers to 20,496.
The New Bedford Cable Network is projecting a major dip this year to 18,581 subscribers, followed by another major dip next year to 15,589.
All in all, if New Bedford Cable Access is correct, that is roughly a 40% drop in subscribers in four years. That is stunning.
It's no secret that this trend isn't unique to New Bedford. In fact, cord-cutting has become so commonplace for such a long time, there is a new term. "Cord Nevers" are the growing group of Millennials and Gen Z'ers who have never subscribed to cable and say they never will.
Station manager Jim Marshall says that there is a plan for that. NBCN has a strategy in place to not only run local content on the cable access network but to also post the content online.
"Resources are devoted to maximizing programming and making programs accessible not only to New Bedford residents but to residents across Greater New Bedford," he said. "Programs that impact the region are shared with neighboring community access stations."
Marshall points out that New Bedford's cable access channels are funded through a grant provided by Comcast (a result of the Cable Act of 1993).
The city provides the infrastructure, so cable companies in America have to pay a grant to allow the cities and towns to provide cable TV. Therefore, NBCN gets 5% of the cable television revenue. He points out that "we're our own worst enemy," referring to the fact that people no longer need cable to view a lion's share of their original, local content.
"The definition of cable TV needs to change," Marshall said. "We're not cable TV anymore. Internet needs to be included."
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