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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.

15 mins ago - World

Israel's "change bloc" collapses, leaving Netanyahu in charge

Bennett (L) with Netanyahu in 2015. Photo: Gali Tibbon/AFP via Getty Images

In a dramatic shift that comes amid fighting in the Gaza strip and clashes between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel, right-wing kingmaker Naftali Bennett has announced he will no longer seek an alternative government to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Why it matters: Bennett had been on the verge of a power-sharing deal with centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid that would have made him prime minister for two years until Lapid rotated into the job. Without Bennett, Lapid has no path to a majority, and Israel will almost certainly head for its fifth election since 2019 with Netanyahu still in his post.

CDC says fully vaccinated people don't have to wear masks indoors

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Erin Clark-Pool/Getty Images

The CDC announced in new guidance Thursday that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, regardless of crowd size.

What they're saying: "If you are fully vaccinated, you are protected, and you can start doing the things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky will say at a White House press briefing.