A new report shows that cable and satellite pay TV providers lost 380,000 customers over this quarter last year. Over the last 12 months, the number of customers declined by 911,000, up from 258,000 the previous year. That might represent only a little over 1% of overall customers. But the pace of what is known as cord cutting is accelerating — as is an existential threat to the survival of CNN and MSNBC.
As hard as it is to believe, CNN and MSNBC are both safely profitable. You might wonder how that is possible with only a half-million or less viewers, but it is in part thanks to a racket known as bundled cable. If you want Fox News (or any other cable-only channel) but the only way to get it is through an expensive cable/satellite package that includes CNN and/or MSNBC (and a hundred other channels you never watch), chances are a piece of your cable bill is keeping CNN and MSNBC profitable and alive.
Yes, you read that right: Even if you never watch CNN or MSNBC, if it is on your cable package, you are subsidizing them and their left-wing agenda. (Here is a superb primer on how this works.)
I may be wrong, but it is hard to imagine how CNN or MSNBC could stay in business at such a high level if they lost access to the subscription fees that are in no way related to the number of viewers they draw. A half-million viewers compared to the American population is statistically zero. My guess is that without the scam that is bundled cable, CNN and MSNBC would at the very least be in the same kind of trouble print media is today.
Granted, Fox News and dozens of other cable channels also profit from this scheme. But unlike its left-wing cable news counterparts, Fox News is a ratings success. Out of a hundred or so cable channels, Fox is almost always in the top five, while MSNBC and CNN sink into the thirties and forties.
If you want to stick it to CNN and MSNBC, not-watching isn’t enough. You have to cut the cord, stream your entertainment from outlets like Netflix, and get your news online.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC