For Dennis Joyce, the decision to cut the cord came down to a surprising realization: he and his wife only watched three cable channels. For $160 a month, he received basic cable and internet from Spectrum. But when Spectrum announced its new digital rollout would require extra equipment for Joyce’s three TVs and increase his costs, he’d had enough.

“Let’s look at what we really need,” said Joyce, 64, of Palm Harbor.

After exhaustive research, what he and his wife really needed was internet, plus streaming service Sling TV. Joyce liked the service because it gave him access to his Netflix and Amazon Prime subscriptions and a few channels he couldn’t live without. After getting rid of the cable bundle, internet and Sling TV cost him just $85 per month.

The Joyces are part of a growing trend of consumers who are “cutting the cord” and switching away from traditional cable, often to a streaming service or an antenna that brings local channels.

The trend has been under way for years but appears to be accelerating. According to the latest projections by eMarketer, which tracks cord cutting, up to 33 million Americans will have given up cable TV by the end of the year, with that total up nearly 33 percent from last year alone.

“By the end of 2022, more than one-fifth of the U.S. population, or 55.1 million people, will no longer watch traditional pay TV,” eMarketer said in its report.

Local cord-cutting numbers are more difficult to come by. Cable companies hold most subscriber-specific information close to the chest and generally won’t give out even a ballpark number of customers. That’s because the competition is tight — Spectrum and Frontier Communications are the main competitors for cable and internet customers in Tampa Bay, and every customer counts.

NoCable, which acts as an information clearinghouse for non-cable solutions to TV, has slightly more specific information. It ranked Florida the No. 2 state for cutting the cord in 2017 behind California, though it did not have specific numbers of cord cutters. Florida also made some of the highest number of inquiries about what channels are available with an antenna.

But NoCable’s numbers are based on where its site traffic originates from, which doesn’t necessarily indicate a consumer made a firm switch.

Juggling the desires of customers are a challenge for cable providers that have bundled services in recent years.

Frontier and Spectrum have taken a handful of approaches to both entice customers to stay with a traditional bundle and to retain customers who prefer to exclusively stream.

For those who stick with cable, Frontier has integrated Netflix with a channel dedicated to the streaming service and a widget. Spectrum, too, allows people to access Netflix from its service. A Netflix subscription is still required. Spectrum also has a Spectrum TV app that allows people with smart TVs to access channels without a digital receiver.

But the utilities also know that some would just rather do away with traditional TV options altogether. For that scenario, Frontier and Spectrum offer a standalone internet option.

“We don’t want to turn a customer away if ultimately what they want to do is only stream,” Frontier spokesman Bob Elek said. Once a customer decides to go internet-only, they just need to determine which internet speeds would work best for them.

Looking to customize?

Here are some of the entertainment options available:

Traditional pay-for-TV

• Frontier Communications

• Charter Communications/Spectrum



Local channels

• Antenna

• Sling TV

Movies and TV streaming

• Netflix


• Amazon Prime

• HBO Go

• Hoopla

• Acorn TV

• Sling TV


• Charter Communications/Spectrum

• Frontier Communications

• WOW! Internet


• Roku

• Amazon Fire

• Google Chromecast

• Apple TV