However, with over 600,000 cutting the cord in 2015, will these rate increases spark a widespread avalanche of cord cutting that cannot be stopped?
Well, in short, yes, I think another rate hike will spark a rebellion. Since I'm considered to be one of the "younger folk" as far as the pay TV industry is concerned, I guess I have a surprising amount of insight on pay TV service as a whole.
Well, first off let's talk about my parents. My mother has a subscription from DirecTV and watches TV as her primary source of entertainment. On occasion you might catch her looking at some video on Facebook or YouTube, though. Other than that, she is someone I would consider as firmly in the grasps of the pay TV industry. However, she only ever watches ~5 TV shows. She pays a hefty premium to watch those 5 channels because effectively everything else gets lobbed into a giant pile, and given a name. My dad is in a similar fashion, although he's more open to alternative options because he has more "technical experience" with a computer. He's had Netflix before, and he'd sooner go back to it before paying anything close to what my mom pays for DirecTV.
As for me, I don't value pay TV services and their traditional price bracket. While more "modern" ideas such as Sling TV have made great inroads in demonstrating that the industry can adapt to the changing market, if they actually wanted to. So far, the pay TV industry has appeared to ignore cord cutting.
When I was a kid, I used to absolutely love watching cartoons on channels such as Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, and so on. This includes their "derivative" channels. These days, it's actually quite easy to watch full TV series online from something like Netflix, instead of paying for something like a cable subscription. It's just cheaper that way, and the pay TV industry will continue to suffer until they eat the cost to change the fundamental ways that it functions.
Streaming Cannot Be Ignored
This should really be all that I have to say, honestly. Steaming services have gained so much traction over the years that simply ignoring them is a downright foolish idea, and will ultimately be the death of the pay TV industry if they fail to change the way they function. If they wait to the last minute to change, it'll already be too late.
I mean, just look at this list. There's plenty of popular streaming services out there, and the total number will likely grow for the next several years. Existing services such as Netflix will only grow stronger as more and more people flock to their service, as well as others such as Hulu. In addition to streaming services, the "other" forms of media consumption will still exist, such as piracy. That'll be a cat-and-mouse game that no industry will be able to win.