COVID-19 spurs speed and cord cutting – report
Broadband households in the US kept busy during the first wave of coronavirus by kicking up their broadband speeds and reliance on streaming services.
New data from Kagan, a research group within S&P Global, shows a 5.5% increase in residential wireline subscribers to speeds of at least 100 Mbit/s for the first half of 2020, compared to year-end 2019, with an estimated 78.4% of broadband subs seeing such speeds as of June 30.
The highest increase was in the 1Gbit/s tier, with subscribers rising to 7.8%, up from 4.3% at the end of 2019.
Meanwhile, subscribers to 25Mbit/s service fell to 2.7% of wireline broadband households or 2.8 million subscribers "for whom slower speeds likely impeded in-home online activities, including entertainment, during the pandemic," according to S&P Global's blog post about the data.
With at-home entertainment as one main driver behind the need for speed, S&P Global also recently reported that 37% of wireline broadband homes did not subscribe to any linear pay-TV service.
In a blog, S&P explains: "Given the economic headwinds of the first half, U.S. households likely were looking to cut back on discretionary spending, including entertainment. At a monthly $100-plus average, traditional multichannel services stand out in budgeting decisions, particularly in the era of streaming video proliferation."
Indeed, S&P adds, the introduction of HBO Max in May helped broaden offerings for households considering cutting the cord.
While HBO Max has yet to report subscriber numbers, Disney+ (which debuted in late 2019) reported 60.5 million subscribers in early August. This week, Comcast chief Brian Roberts said the recently launched Peacock now has 15 million subs, and that Comcast is on track to add a record-setting 500,000 broadband subscribers in the current third quarter.
— Nicole Ferraro, contributing editor, Light Reading
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