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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Last year was the worst in history for cord-cutting, according to a new analysis out Tuesday from MoffettNathanson.

The state of play: Pay-TV lost 6 million subscribing households in 2020, "with total subscriptions falling by 7.3% over the course of the year, and with penetration dropping to a level not seen in nearly thirty years."

The big picture: A culmination of events over the past week signals that traditional TV is on its last legs.

  1. Cable operators are ditching cable. Altice USA CEO Dexter Goei said in a CNBC interview that "it’s just a question of time" until cable's ultimate demise. Last week, AT&T agreed to a deal with private equity giant TPF to spin off its U.S. video business, including DirecTV.
  2. Smart TV companies are booming: Smart TV maker Vizio said in its IPO filing that its SmartCast smart TV operating system has millions of users. Roku had its best year ever last year, posting a profit on record revenues.
  3. Ad dollars are moving faster to digital: Roku is acquiring Nielsen's advanced TV advertising division as it works to help traditional television ad dollars migrate more quickly to streaming. Digital ad tech stocks like Trade Desk are booming thanks to a growing interest in targeted advertising on televisions.

The big picture: Advanced TV ad buying, or "audience-based" ad buying, only accounts for roughly 10% of the $70 billion TV advertising market today.

Data: eMarketer; Chart: Sara Wise/Axios

Go deeper

Updated Mar 1, 2021 - Economy & Business

Roku to acquire Nielsen's advanced TV advertising division

Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Roku on Monday announced that it is acquiring Nielsen's advanced TV advertising division as it works to help traditional television ad dollars migrate more quickly to streaming.

Why it matters: The deal will give Roku, the top smart TV operating system in the U.S., access to the technology it needs to help grow the digital TV advertising landscape broadly.

Asymptotic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday an emergency order allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they're exposed to COVID-19, provided they're asymptomatic.

Why it matters: People infected with COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus starting from two days before they display symptoms, according to the CDC. Quarantine helps prevent the virus' spread.

Federal judge says Florida ban on "sanctuary cities" racially motivated

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of a Florida law aimed at banning local governments from establishing "sanctuary city" policies, arguing in part that the law is racially motivated and that it has the support of hate groups.

Why it matters: In a 110-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said the law — signed and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.