| December 16, 2020 | |

Broadband truly has been the invaluable asset that has kept us connected and functioning during a challenging 2020. 

Now, as COVID-19 continues unabated across the country, broadband will play an important role to bring some semblance of normalcy to our holiday celebrations, from fulfilling wish lists with online shopping to hosting virtual family gatherings to keeping us entertained.

Online shopping booms

Holiday online shopping has been shattering records every year since 2005, when the term “Cyber Monday” was introduced. Cable has played a starring role in the shift to buying online, with about two-thirds of all broadband subscribers in the United States.

This year – with COVID-19-related in-person shopping restrictions and safety concerns – a survey taken in September showed that online shopping would probably take an even bigger leap than expected this holiday season. Of those responding, 75% said they plan do at least half of their holiday shopping online, while 53% said they will increase their online shopping frequency.

The 2020 holiday shopping season started even earlier than the traditional Thanksgiving kickoff, with retailers began rolling out deals in October (including a rescheduled Amazon’s Prime Day) to make up for sales lost during pandemic shutdowns. 

Still – as expected – online sales recorded from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday reached new heights:

Adobe Analytics forecasts online sales for the entire holiday season will total $184 billion, a jump of 30% from last year. 

As holiday shoppers spend more time on websites this year, cable providers caution them to be increasingly vigilant about their online safety. 

“The ongoing health and safety issues in the United States have driven more and more people to do even their everyday shopping online – including groceries and meal delivery,” said Ken Johnson, senior vice president of technology services for Sparklight, which has put together these safety tips. “This increased activity gives cyber criminals more opportunity to access our personal information. Caution is always key when sharing personal information online, but in our current situation, it becomes even more critical.”

Cable connects

Holidays are a time for families. It’s tough to think of spending the season without the presence of special loved ones, but that may be the reality for many of us this year due to safety concerns.

Cable broadband will continue to help keep families connected as it has since the start of the pandemic. A video call can’t completely replace a hug from grandma, but at least you can share a smile.

One of the more popular platforms for personal and business use, Zoom, has seen its number of users grow from less than 10 million in December 2019 to more than 300 million in April 2020.

Not into video chats? Cable providers continue to offer digital telephone, and Altice USA (Suddenlink services in Texas), Charter Spectrum and Comcast offer wireless service. In three years since the first of those companies launched mobile service, the three combined now have almost 5 million subscribers. 

Staying entertained

Cable programming has been a popular time filler and distraction during this pandemic. Less than two months into the pandemic, when many of us were largely confined to our homes, Nielsen reported that Americans were streaming TV content at about twice the levels they were last year. For the week ending in April 27, Americans streamed approximately 150.5 billion minutes of video.

Video traffic in the early days of the pandemic made up a combined 50% of total internet traffic. Thanks to the cable industry’s $290 billion infrastructure investment over the last two decades, cable’s broadband network continues to perform with speed and reliability under pandemic demands.

This fall, COVID-19 put a crimp in the return of scripted TV shows to the lineup, but a record number of nearly 100 new, original holiday-themed films started filling the void in mid October. Hallmark’s popular “Countdown to Christmas” movies have gained rating increases in 2020, and other programmers are also are reporting an up-swing in holiday fare viewing.

According to an article in Multichannel News, holiday films from cable programmers such as Hallmark, Lifetime, OWN and UPtv are “comforting viewers with the promise of hope and optimism as reflected in holiday traditions emphasizing family and peace. Those sentiments echo loudly in a year where the country has suffered through the worst pandemic in 100 years, forcing a new dynamic of stay-at-home rules that have taken a toll on the country’s physical, mental and economic health.”

Looking for something to watch this holiday season? Check out the website 

The Texas Cable Association and our member companies – Altice USA, Charter Spectrum, Comcast, Sparklight and Vyve Broadband – wish you a safe and happy holiday season and best wishes for 2021.

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