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Michigan viewers cancel cable TV in record numbers in 2022, report shows

Michigan cable TV subscriptions dropped 9 percent in 2022, a record decline, according to a state report issued last week. (Shutterstock photo)
  • Statewide, 37.5 percent of households now have cable TV
  • That's down from 62 percent in 2009 and mirrors a national trend
  • Cable companies are pivoting to internet 

The number of households breaking away from cable television in Michigan accelerated in 2022, with over 151,000 households dropping the service, a 9 percent drop, the biggest one-year decline.

According to an annual report issued last week by the Michigan Public Service Commission, there are now roughly 1.5 million cable subscribers statewide, down nearly 900,000 since 2009, or 37.5 percent of all households.

The peak of cable TV in Michigan was 2009, when over 2,365,000 households subscribed, or 62 percent of all households. That number held relatively flat until 2016 as people turned to streaming services and satellite providers.


Nationally, an estimated 6 million households per year are dropping cable.


“There’s a trend that people are moving away from fixed cable to streaming services,” said Matt Helms, a spokesperson for the Public Services Commission, which regulates the natural gas, electrical and telecommunications industries in Michigan.

The cable industry has positioned itself for the transition by offering high-speed internet.

“Consumers want more control and options for accessing content and video services, contributing to a significant shift in the cable industry,” Debra Havins, a spokesperson for WOW! Cable, a Michigan provider, told Bridge Michigan in an email.

She said many new customers are buying high-speed internet from WOW!, with customers “using high-speed data connections to access information and entertainment, making traditional cable TV offerings less meaningful.”

Cord-cutters say they do it to lower costs and better tailor their entertainment choices to their own interests — paying for the channels they routinely watch rather than the pay-on-price potpourri of traditional cable.

Sports networks, like Bally Sports, which carries the Red Wings, Tigers and Pistons, typically now have a streaming option and are not as tethered to a cable plan as they had in the past.

But with cord cutting, critics say, may result in fewer choices as channels see revenue decline. 

In sports, media watchers are predicting bankruptcy for the parent company of Bally Sports in part because of lower revenue from cord cutting that’s not fully replaced by streaming-only subscribers.

The PSC report also disclosed that 540,000 Michigan households — roughly 13 percent of all households — are taking advantage of a new federal program, passed by Congress in 2021, that provides up to $30 a month to offset the cost of internet services. 

To qualify a family would have to have an income below 200 percent of federal poverty rate. For a family of four, the income limit would by $60,000; for a single person, the limit would be $29,160.

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