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'Cord Cutting' for TV, Phone Still Just Myth

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Cable customers are not cutting the cord in favor of streaming services in great numbers.

Despite constant fears in the cable industry of cord cutting and great hope among potential disruptors, little evidence of that happening was cited by industry leaders speaking this week at "Streaming Media East" online video industry conference in New York.

The closest was data from Jim Funk, VP of streaming broadband box maker Roku, which asks customers after they buy the box whether they plan to scale back cable services. Funk said 15%-20% of customers said they would but he noted that customers did not cite Roku as the reason. The $99 Roku box allows users to access Amazon video, Netflix and other online services on their traditional TV's.

Cord cutting would be a huge victory for companies with streaming products like Microsoft (MSFT), Sony (SNE), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX) , Amazon (AMZN)and Google's (GOOG) YouTube. By disrupting the traditional cable model, they aim to get a slice of the multibillion-dollar cable pie sliced up by Comcast (CMCSA), Cablevision (CVC), Time Warner Cable (TWX) and others.

Last fall, Verizon (VZ) CEO Ivan Seidenberg dismissed those who call cord cutting myth and said young people would not pay for huge bundles in the future. Industry leaders from Starz, MTV (VIA), Roku, Boxee, News Corp (NWS), Sezmi and HBO all agreed younger customers will consume and pay for TV in a different manner, but there was one thing that would keep them from cutting the cord -- the cord is also the broadband connection. So-called "cord-trimming" where customers pay for cable broadband but drop the TV service may be the result, which is closer to Seidenberg's view.

--Written by Bill McCandless at the "Streaming Media East" conference in New York

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