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Cable subscriptions fall as Netflix popularity soars

By Haley Miller, For The Miami Student

Miami students living off-campus are faced with the same question asked in many households across the nation - whether or not to subscribe to a cable package.

Many students are choosing to leave cable services behind in exchange for online streaming.

With services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime gaining more popularity, cable services are losing customers quickly. In August, the pay-TV industry reported a loss of 625,000 users, its largest quarterly drop in history.

The so-called "Cord-Cutting Revolution" is the movement away from basic cable and toward online streaming services.

Among countless other nicknames, Generation Y, or millennials, can now add a new nickname to their repertoire: "Cord-Nevers." If "Cord-Cutters" are older generations that at one point paid for cable but decided to cancel their subscriptions, "Cord-Nevers" are viewers who have never paid for cable in their lives.

While this may not be especially catchy and will definitely remind Arrested Development fans of Tobias Funke's "never nudes," it does speak to a generational difference between Gen X and Gen Y.

Millennials can't remember a time where there were only four channels and no such thing as a DVR. They are one of the first, if not the first, generation to use streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go and Amazon Prime for a significant portion of their TV consumption.

Television viewing, for those born within the last 20 years, has been dictated by countless choices.So, as they begin to live on their own and purchase houses, they are less inclined to purchase cable packages.

Junior Liz Bender shares her Netflix account with one of her roommates, which brings her final amount spent on television to around $4 a month.

This stands in contrast to the roughly $89.99 package that Time Warner Cable offers to college students.

Bender said she didn't even consider purchasing cable this year.

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"I'm not really sure how much cable even is," Bender said. "Most people I know tend to just have Netflix."

Another student, Allison Van Horn, shares her Amazon Prime and Netflix accounts with her family, cutting costs even further. However, Van Horn does have a television in her apartment and an HDMI cord.

"I can plug my laptop into the TV and watch live streams on the bigger screen, if I want," Van Horn said.

Some Miami students, on the other hand, have not abandoned their cords. Senior Megan Kolthoff spoke about the familiarity of just turning on the TV.

"We usually just put on our TV for background noise while we're all doing our homework. There's no one show we need to watch, it's just nice to have," Kolthoff said.

She lives in a house with five other girls, which means they each pay about $17 a month for cable.

Kolthoff also noted she doesn't know anyone without cable, meaning that while cord-cutting may be on the rise, it certainly has not rendered cable completely obsolete or unpopular.

Beyond Miami, nearly 7.6 million Americans have abandoned cable in favor of online streaming, according to a 2014 study by Experian Marketing Services.

In the last five years, the percent of households without cable in the U.S. has jumped from 4.5 to 6.5. The same study found that out of Netflix or Hulu Plus users, 20 percent are not cable subscribers.