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No single factor drives cord cutting more than the high prices charged by cable companies. And the largest cable companies in the country are the worst offenders, because their huge reach and monopolistic control keep small-time competitors away from the market.

Depending on where you live, your local cable company might be Comcast, Time Warner Cable, or another provider. But almost everywhere in the country, the story is the same: one large company is dominant. Which of these huge cable companies is the largest of all? Which has the most subscribers? Here are the big dogs ranked by number of subscribers:

  1. Comcast: 22,400,000
  2. Charter Communications: 18,421,145
  3. Cox Communications: 4,540,280
  4. Altice: 3,948,000
  5. Mediacom: 862,000

Source: Wikipedia

Remember, Charter Communications now includes both Charter and Time Warner Cable, thanks to their huge merger. Altice includes both Cablevision and Suddenlink.

There's a clear rivalry at the top of this list. Comcast and Charter both have around 20 million subscribers, while the third and fourth place finishers hover around 4 or 5 million. After the top four, the numbers drop off even more – all of the companies outside of the top four have less than 1 million subscribers each.

So that's how the cable giants stack up. What about satellite companies and other types of pay TV providers? We'll add them in bold.

  1. AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV: 26,000,000
  2. Comcast: 22,400,000
  3. Charter Communications: 18,421,145
  4. Dish Network: 13,909,000
  5. Verizon FiOS: 4,700,000

DirecTV's huge subscriber numbers are second to none, and Dish's numbers are impressive, too, finishing closer to cable's top dogs than to its also-rans. Huge numbers of Americans in rural areas go with satellite TV, as do many in other areas who see it as a better alternative than cable. With just two top satellite companies, that translates to huge numbers. Verizon's fiber offering (which is not classified by the FCC as cable) is larger than any cable company outside of the top two.

It's worth remembering that, aside from competition between the satellite companies and the cable companies, there's really not much competition on this list. Chances are, you like in an area where only one of the cable companies is an option. So all of these gaudy numbers for Comcast and Charter aren't the result of business triumphs – they're the result of monopolies.

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