TV subscriber losses increased last year and will keep growing, report says

A new report says more Canadians are choosing to cancel their cable TV and satellite packages and there's no sign of the migration slowing down.

Report says streaming services continue to grow at the expense of traditional broadcasters

Consumers cutting the cable TV cord in favour of online streaming options is a growing trend, a new report shows. (iStock)

More Canadians cancelled their cable or satellite television package last year, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down, a new report says.

The Convergence Consulting Group says about 95,000 fewer households had a cable TV or satellite subscription in 2014. That's a huge increase in TV subscriber losses from 13,000 the previous year. But it's less than the 97,000 the consultancy forecasts will cut the cord in 2015.

Between 2007 and 2011, cable subscriptions grew by about 220,000 per year.

But today, more and more Canadian households don't have a conventional TV subscription. The report says the number of Canadian households that did not have a traditional linear TV subscription grew by 163,000 in 2013, another 240,000 last year and are that figure is poised to increase by 242,000 this year.

Brahm Eiley, president of Toronto-based firm that completed the study, said many of those customers are turning to Netflix. He estimates the streaming service ended last year with 3.9 million Canadian subscribers, up from three million the year before.

Eiley says the study also found more Canadians are becoming comfortable watching content through other internet platforms, whether it's through the web platforms of TV channels or illegal downloads.

Cut the phone cord, too

Television isn't the only cord that Canadians are cutting. The report also shows Canadians are ditching their home phone lines at an escalating pace. By the end of 2015, the authors expect 31 per cent of Canadians will have no land-line telephone, and will instead only have one or multiple cellphones for their telecommunications needs.

And they're not just talk-only flip-phones any more. The report estimates that by the end of the year 76 per cent of the cellphones in use in Canada will be smartphones. That's up from 70 per cent last year.

If there's one trend that's holding steady, however, it seems to be Canadians' loyalty to the incumbent telecom firms. The report forecasts that new entrants to Canada's wireless market will have 6.6 per cent of the market by YE2015, up from 5.8 per cent year-end 2014.

The remainder — more than 90 per cent of Canadian customers — will be with one of the Big Three: Bell, Rogers or Telus.