No Matter How Many More Channels Cable Networks Give Us, We Just Don’t Watch Them

Cable networks just love adding channels. It adds a perception of value, perhaps. But all those extra channels go to waste. Turns out, we only like a select few channels, no matter how many we have to choose from.

According to Nielsen’s Advertising & Audiences Report, the average North American TV home now receives a whopping 189 TV channels—a record high and significant jump since 2008, when the average home received 129 channels. Despite this increase, however, consumers have consistently tuned in to an average of just 17 channels.

Yup, that’s right: even as networks added 60 channels over six years, households tune into just 0.2 more channels on average. To create real value for consumers, cable companies need to shift their focus from offering more channels to offering customized packages tailored to users’ specific tastes (wishful thinking, I know).