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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

More than 1 million people ditched their cable and satellite TV packages last quarter, the most ever in a quarterly earnings period, according to research firm MoffettNathanson.

Why it matters: Americans are increasingly giving up on expensive cable and satellite TV packages for more affordable services delivered over a broadband connection.

By the numbers: More than 80% of pay-TV subscribers in the U.S. come from four cable and satellite providers: AT&T, Comcast, Charter and Dish. Those companies together lost 887,000 subscribers this quarter, mostly driven by big losses at Dish and AT&T.

  • Dish lost 367,000 customers, its highest quarterly loss ever, after cutting access to Univision amid a months-long carriage-fee dispute that is still unresolved.
  • AT&T lost 359,000 subscribers for the quarter, far surpassing analyst estimates of 245,000 subscribers lost.

The big picture: There are roughly 120 million TV homes in the U.S., per Nielsen, and about 90 million of them (75%) still pay for traditional TV. But that percentage has been decreasing as more people cut the cord.

  • In total, eMarketer predicts cord-cutting will grow more than 30% this year. eMarketer increased projections for cord cutting twice in less than a year, a sign that the trend is accelerating.
Expand chart
Adapted from an eMarketer report; Chart: Axios Visuals

Between the lines: Many pay-TV providers are hoping to offset losses with gains in subscribers to digital TV alternatives, like AT&T's DirecTV NOW or Dish's Sling TV.

  • But those companies haven't been able to come close to closing the gap, in part because of so much competition from other digital live TV alternatives, like Google's YouTube TV, Sony's PlayStation Vue and Fubo TV, as well as non-live TV alternatives with original programming, like Amazon and Netflix.
  • Both Sling TV and DirecTV Now are seeing slowed growth, making it even less likely that those digital alternatives will offset traditional subscriber losses for the two biggest pay-TV companies.
  • Total subscriber losses were roughly 500,000, the third-worst quarter in industry history and worst since Q2 2016, per BTIG Media Analyst Rich Greenfield.

The bottom line: Traditional pay-TV is in big trouble.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with First Lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.