PEI

Are you watching more TV despite having cut the cable cord?

Have you cut the cord on cable but find yourself in front of a screen just as much as before?

Bell, Eastlink and you talk about changing media consumption patterns in the internet age

'We have no problem with only watching Netflix,' says Natalie Radix Prentice. (Shutterstock)

Have you cut the cord on cable but find yourself in front of a screen just as much as before? 

In 2018, a report by the Media Technology Monitor suggested one in four anglophone Canadians have cut the cord and no longer pay for a traditional TV service, while just over half are Netflix users. 

How has your media environment changed at home?

CBC asked readers via Facebook, as well as media companies Bell Aliant and Eastlink about their cable subscriptions.

'Watch whatever we want'

"Four years ago we got rid of satellite and never decided to get it back. We're going to spend $14 and watch whatever we want, when we want, with no commercials," commented Natalie Radix Prentice of Kensington, P.E.I. 

'Cable television is for rubes,' says Jason Patrick Fisher. (CBC)

"We love not having satellite and we have no problem with only watching Netflix. If satellite and cable companies drop their prices because people have so many options, now they would find a lot of people would go back to them but people don't want to spend $100 for the same 10 shows on the same 60 stations."

With the advent of Netflix, etc. I find myself spending a lot more time in front of the TV.— Shannon Courtney

Chris Batchilder of Cornwall, P.E.I., said his family cancelled their cable subscription two months ago, and instead stream Netflix, Amazon Prime and Acorn TV. He bought an antenna for picking up CTV and CBC for $22 from Amazon, and also uses an Android box.

Shannon Courtney of Charlottetown said she never did buy cable and "rarely used to watch TV at all, but with the advent of Netflix, etc. I find myself spending a lot more time in front of the TV — the lack of ads and freedom to watch what I want, when I want, were very appealing. Plus you can't argue with their price point!"

Jason Patrick Fisher posits "cable television is for rubes," and says he is saving hundreds of dollars a year by switching to streaming services like Amazon Prime, Netflix and using an Amazon fire stick.

"Don't miss a beat on anything, and have the Mobdro app (ad based and legitimate) to stream live television channels and shows," Fisher said. 

'More TV than ever,' or 'screen time down'?

"Cut our cable years ago," responded Denise Dawn MacLeod, who instead uses Plex, Netflix, Amazon and Apple. "Screen time down as I do not mindlessly flip through channels. I just watch the few shows I want to watch."

Besides a fibre optic network that delivers internet and television, Bell also owns Crave, a popular streaming platform. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)

"We were early Netflix adopters and now we also have Prime and Crave and use Google to rent movies," commented Laine Brehaut, who lives in rural P.E.I. and never subscribed to cable. 

Our cable competitors continue to report significant TV subscriber losses.— Katie Hatfield, Bell Aliant

"We definitely consume more TV than ever. It's a real treat to be able to watch what we want, when we want and to have options that please everyone. But, it would also be great to have the willpower to turn it off, but I mean, have you seen the new Blue Planet II? I used to have to go to a museum to see something of that quality. And all without the life-sucking annoyance of constant ad-interruptions."

"Even with Netflix's price hike it is still substantially cheaper than cable — and no commercials! I don't think there is much change in our watching habits but it is definitely more convenient," commented Steve Giddings of Charlottetown.

Shirley Gallant said she cancelled her cable 10 years ago, put an antenna on the roof and "hardly watch the three channels I get now."

Bell's take

Neither Bell Aliant nor Eastlink agreed to an interview, but responded via email to CBC News when asked about cord-cutters in the Maritimes.

'We had overall positive growth in TV subscribers for the year,' says Bell Aliant. (Deyan Georgiev/Shutterstock)

Bell Aliant said it does not release subscriber numbers by province or region, but said the company is seeing overall growth in television subscribers due to the popularity of its product Fibe TV. 

Similar to cable, it is television provided over Bell's fibre optic network, which also provides internet. It is worth noting that fibre optic cable is not available in many rural communities because it is expensive for companies to install.

"Despite losses in our satellite TV business as more people do switch to Fibe, we had overall positive growth in TV subscribers for the year," said Bell communications spokesperson Katie Hatfield in an email to CBC News. 

"It's worth noting that our cable competitors continue to report significant TV subscriber losses," she added.

The company now boasts 2,853,081 Canadian TV customers, and Hatfield said it added more than 110,000 Fibe TV customers last year.

The company is playing all sides of the media market — it also owns the Crave streaming platform which now has 2.3 million subscribers.

What Eastlink said

"While the overall number of traditional TV subscribers continues to lessen, reports show providers lost 20 per cent fewer subscribers overall last year, which represents about two per cent of the total market," said Jill Laing, with Eastlink public and media relations.

'For many consumers, services like Netflix and YouTube are a complement to their TV services — often referred to as “cord stacking,"' says an Eastlink spokesperson. (CBC)

Eastlink headquarters is in Nova Scotia but its network extends across Canada.

Eastlink says it is not experiencing video customer losses "due in large part to services like the company's unique and exclusive TV Channel Exchange enabling customers to swap channels they don't want, for ones they do want."

The company also says for many consumers, services like Netflix and YouTube are "a complement to their TV services — often referred to as 'cord stacking.'"

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About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca

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