Cord-Cutting Prediction Leads Wall Street Firm to Slash Price Targets on Multiple Stocks

While 1.8 percent of subscribers will cut the cord each year, new additions will lead to a less frightening 1.1 percent loss annually, says Evercore ISI.

About 1.8 percent of TV subscribers will cut the cord each year through 2020, according to Evercore ISI, a Wall Street research firm that cut its stock targets on several television companies Tuesday in light of its prediction.

Evercore ISI says in an 86-page research note published Tuesday that while 1.8 percent will cut the cord annually, new households that are adding TV subscriptions will make the final tally a less-frightening 1.1 percent of lost subscribers annually.

The firm also forecasts "cord-shaving," whereby subscribers will scale their channels downward so that their cable or satellite bill drops below $40 per month. Right now, these so-called "skinny bundles" account for 9 percent of the U.S. subscriber base, but it should grow to 16 percent by 2020.

Over-the-top services like Netflix and Hulu are certainly a concern, but Evercore ISI says that, so far, these are complementary to pay TV. "We haven't yet seen an offering which is a direct threat from a cost plus functionality standpoint," says the report.

Evercore ISI figures on 1.5 million new households being formed annually over the next five years in the U.S., but says that only half the households formed by Millennials will subscribe to TV, "while the other half will effectively become cord-nevers."

Long-term, the analysts, led by Vijay Jayant, see cable settling with 53.5 percent market share, down from 54 percent. Satellite will move to 36 percent, up from 34 percent, and telco will drop to 11 percent from 13 percent.

Beyond the 1.1 percent annual cord-cutting, the report suggests 3.1 percent annual growth in high-speed Internet subscribers and 1.2 percent growth annually in skinny subscriber penetration.

The analysts reduced their stock targets for AMC Networks, Discovery Communications, Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, Scripps Networks Interactive and Viacom.