Why Cable Subscriptions Really Declined For The First Time Ever

For the first time since cable has existed, the number of subscriptions has fallen from one quarter to the next. Have we finally found the mythical mass exodus to Hulu and Apple TV? I don't think so. Here's why.

The map above shows activity that took place between the first and second quarters of this year. Orange circles represent with net subscription declines in metro areas, green circles show net increases. Compare that to this heatmap from RealtyTrac that shows where the highest incidence of foreclosure in May of 2010:

It's not an exact correlation by any means. But it's close. And I'm way more inclined to believe that cable's one of the first things people sacrifice when times are tight than that everyone in the Southeast suddenly bought a Boxee Box.

The real worry for cable companies is that as people are forced to drop cable, they'll suddenly realise that they never needed it to begin with. It's so easily replaced! So while the top graph isn't the death of cable, it may well be the vulture circling overhead. [WSJ]