It's been a rough few months for cable companies (and for non-cable pay-TV companies like Dish), with earnings reports showing that cord cutting and “cord shaving” – switching to smaller pay-TV packages – are still hurting the industry. As it turns out, the past year hasn't been much better: cable companies have lost 2.7% of their subscribers on average since this time last year. That's according to consulting company Nielsen, the organization behind the famous Nielsen ratings.

The numbers are slightly less awful when looked at on a per-household basis. Nielsen says the number of households with cable TV has dropped 2.3%, a bit less than the 2.7% that the average cable company has lost in market penetration. But no matter how you spin them, these numbers are bad news for the cable giants.

This trend doesn't just hurt cable companies like Comcast. It also hurts cable networks like ESPN, which has seen a dip in ratings of over 4%. Distribution revenue (money from deals with cable companies) is a huge part of what keeps cable networks afloat, and so is advertising revenue. Both will be affected by the decline in viewership. As Multichannel points out, major distribution losses will be staved off for a while by minimums built into cable company contracts. But with ratings down thanks to cord cutting and DVR viewing, the cable networks can expect to make less on their next big deal.