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How Stay at Home Orders and Streaming Services Became X Factors to Drive Disruption for Cable/Satellite and Internet Service Providers

Blog Post05/11/2021
How Stay at Home Orders and Streaming Services Became X Factors to Drive Disruption for Cable/Satellite and Internet Service Providers

Before COVID-19, streaming services had already started to disrupt the traditional cable/satellite TV models. They also started to affect how consumers chose and kept their Internet service with speed, performance and price being among the key components driving stickiness.

But with the onset of the pandemic, this disruption reached epic proportions.

Last year, video streaming services saw a significant increase. A Nielson report that measured the growth of streaming services during the first few weeks of stay at home orders in March of 2020 reflected that the current outbreak had further accelerated this growth among the key advertising demographic. Year-over-year, streaming among people 25-54 was shown to have increased almost 100%.

The adoption of streaming services is likely to grow even more this year. According to recent research from eMarketer, cord cutting remains rampant. In 2016, Pay-TV households numbered close to 98 million. In 2021, this figure is expected to plummet to just shy of 74 million and dip even further to 63.4 million by 2024.

It is becoming a challenge for Internet service providers and cable/satellite TV providers to maximize customer loyalty and avoid churn especially younger consumers – to say the least.

According to a recent report by TransUnion, on Customer Satisfaction and Churn among Cellular, Cable/Satellite TV and home Internet consumers, extremely high levels of consumer satisfaction levels are required to minimize consumer churn.  With the adoption of streaming TV services on the rise, there are even greater challenges on the horizon for cable/satellite TV providers, specifically.

This trend is even more pronounced among younger consumers.  Streaming TV services are much more popular with the younger generations, with penetration in the mid 60% range for both Gen Z and Millennials.  50% of Gen-X are using a streaming television service, either as their only TV source (24%), or in conjunction with cable/satellite TV (26%).

More percent of people are satisfied with cable/satellite than those considering switching or dropping service

Cable/Satellite TV Providers Starting to Consciously Stream

For television services, pricing and available content are arguably the two most important attributes and happen to be where streaming services excel across all generations.

Top 2 Most Liked Streaming TV Service Attributes


Gen Z


Gen X

Baby Boomers






Available Content






Streaming television services also had the highest level of consumer satisfaction in our study, with 93% of consumers being a least moderately satisfied.

Overall consumers are extremely or very satisfied with streaming television service providers

When asked what their plans were regarding their streaming television service, a whopping 96% of consumers also said they plan to keep at least one streaming television service.

So, it’s no surprise that soon after COVID-19 forced millions to stay at home and many of us to turn to our flat screens and TVs to pass our time at home, Netflix achieved record-setting growth in the first quarter of the year, adding nearly 16 million subscribers, according to media reports.  In the third quarter of 2020 alone, Netflix generated total revenue of over 6.44 billion U.S. dollars, up from just over 5.24 billion in the corresponding quarter of 2019 as cited by Statista.

In response, more and more cable/satellite TV providers came up with their own version of TV streaming services. New to 2021, for example, is the Discovery + Network, at $4.99 to $6.99 per month (with and without advertising), featuring more than 55,000 episodes from channels including Animal Planet, Food Network, HGTV and TLC. Others that have already appeared on the streaming scene include NBC’s Peacock and HBO Max. Additional streaming services are also soon to launch this year.

Work at Home + School at Home + Streaming: An Equation for Even Greater Churn?

With government orders to stay, work and learn at home, the usage of most applications, especially streaming TV services, significantly increased. Movie theaters and gyms shut down and it seemed when we weren’t in a Zoom meeting, for one thing or another, we were on the proverbial Internet highway to the destinations in the cloud. 

According to cloud edge platform company, Fastly, traffic in New York and New Jersey increased by 44.6% during the month of March and download speed decreased by 5.5% while traffic in Michigan increased by 37.9% and download speed, with school closures, dropped to 31.8%. 

Internet providers began to face compounding challenges. The big questions that consumers always ask themselves when deciding whether to switch are: how fast is the product at delivering the content I want, how much does that cost and how reliable is the service? In the current environment, it became harder and harder for Internet providers to score very well.

When home Internet consumers in our study were asked what they liked best about their home Internet service the three attributes mentioned most often were network/download speeds, pricing and reliability with network/download speeds liked by 60% of extremely satisfied consumers and reliability liked by 50% of extremely satisfied consumers.

Though pricing remains a key factor when deciding whether to switch with 39% of consumers in our study mentioning lower pricing as the primary reason, faster network speeds are key for 18% followed by 13% who desire better reliability.

Consequently, now with streaming continuing to be a big bandwidth driver, along with stay-at-home orders pushing a variety of applications to high levels of usage, many Internet service providers have been driven to upgrade and improve their service. According to WISPA, an industry association for wireless Internet service providers, download traffic and upload traffic surging with the pandemic has been pushing its members to upgrade both last-mile and backhaul capacity, according to a survey of its members last August.

Underscoring all of this is the innovation we have only begun to see and an important reminder that pricing and performance, have the capacity to drive both positive satisfaction with their presence and negative satisfaction in their absence.

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