Analysis for 'Cable TV Operators'

  • Research: Pay-TV’s High Cost is Creating Huge Industry Vulnerability

    TiVo has released its 16th quarterly Video Trends Report (previously published by Digitalsmiths, which was acquired by TiVo in 2014) and the key takeaway is that pay-TV’s high cost is creating huge industry vulnerability that is already showing up in increased cord-cutting/cord-shaving and higher penetration and use of SVOD services. It also looks possible that interest in skinny bundles could be fueled by their low cost compared to traditional pay-TV.

    TiVo found that in Q4 ’16, 17% of respondents didn’t subscribe to a pay-TV service, and of this group, 19.8% cut the cord in the last 12 months. No surprise, “price/too expensive” was the top factor influencing respondents’ decision to cut the cord, cited by 80.1% of them. But in second position was using a streaming service such as Netflix/Hulu/Amazon, which was cited by 48.3% of respondents.

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  • New Research Highlights Major Challenges Skinny Bundles Face

    New research from consulting firm Altman Vilandrie & Company highlights the major challenges that current and pending “skinny bundles” face. Skinny bundles - which are scaled down, customized and less expensive groups of TV networks - have become a hot industry topic, and are perceived as valuable in pulling cord-cutters and cord-nevers back into the pay-TV ecosystem.

    But AV&Co.’s 7th annual consumer video survey, which is the most extensive research that I’ve seen yet into the prospects for skinny bundles, paints a picture of how narrow the opportunity may in fact be. VideoNuze readers know that I’ve been very skeptical of skinny bundles, whether from Sling TV, PlayStation Vue or soon Hulu and DirecTV Now. The AV&Co. research largely confirms my concerns (see here and here).

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  • Research: Pay-TV Subscribers More Interested in SVOD Than Non-Subscribers

    New research from Interactive Broadband Consulting Group (IBB) suggests that pay-TV subscribers may actually be more fertile targets for adding SVOD services than non-pay-TV subscribers. IBB found that 31% of current pay-TV subscribers plan to add an SVOD service over the next 6 months, vs. 21% for non-pay-TV subscribers.

    The data supports the theory that heavier TV watchers seek more great TV to watch (and therefore are more prone to subscribe to SVOD services which are offering a ton of originals) than lighter watchers. That’s not to say there isn’t also a segment of what I’ve called “entertainment-only’s” who will resist paying for the multichannel bundle which is anchored by expensive sports networks.

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  • Survey: SVOD Usage is Up, But Pay-TV is Still Hugely Popular, Even Among Millennials

    Perhaps the biggest question weighing on the pay-TV ecosystem these days is whether younger viewers who have acclimated themselves to a strictly SVOD diet will eventually become pay-TV subscribers or whether they’ll remain “cord-nevers.”

    The traditional narrative is that as younger viewers settle down, buy a house, make more money and have kids they’ll end up subscribing to pay-TV just like their parents did. With the booming array of inexpensive OTT substitutes, that expectation has become feeling ever more tenuous.

    But a new survey of 1,111 U.S. 18+ year-olds by Clearleap seems to suggest the narrative still has legs, with 91.3% of those over 30 years-old saying they either currently or previously subscribed to pay-TV. That’s a big jump from the 73.5% of 18-29 year-olds that said they have subscribed at some point, which means 26.5% of the age cohort are technically “cord-nevers.” 64.4% of 18-29 year-olds say they currently subscribe to pay-TV while the subscription rate for all respondents to pay-TV was 78.9%.

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  • Survey: Robust OTT Options are Main Driver of Cord-Cutting Interest

    Research firm Magid has released new survey data showing that robust OTT options are by far the most important driver of cord-cutting interest among those who say they’re likely to cut the cord. Magid found that OTT-related reasons were cited by a combined 77% of would-be cord-cutters, up from the 76% that cited OTT reasons in 2014 and 54% in 2013.

    Per the chart below, the top 3 reasons cited by would-be cord-cutters were: “I am satisfied with online streaming options like Netflix and Hulu” (50%), “I can watch the TV shows and movies I like on the Internet” (41%) and “I have entertainment options on the Internet” (41%).

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  • 67% of Pay-TV Subscribers Don't Cite Sports As Justifying the Multichannel Bundle

    Here's some data that contradicts conventional wisdom: in a new survey from Clearleap, 67% of pay-TV subscribers said sports are not the reason they maintain a subscription, citing viewership of programs on other TV networks instead. Even sports fans didn't express a lot of enthusiasm for sports as justifying the multichannel bundle, with almost half citing other programs they watch as requiring a subscription.

    There has always been a strong industry consensus that live sports were the firewall for pay-TV's multichannel bundle. Even as entertainment programming has proliferated in OTT services and elsewhere, the only place to get marquee sports programming was on pay-TV. Therefore, the reasoning went, sports were the "glue" keeping subscribers on board.

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  • Research: Cord-Cutters Mostly Satisfied Without Pay-TV Service

    New research from nScreenMedia (my weekly podcast partner Colin Dixon's firm), has found that among pay-TV cord-cutters, 37% said they were "extremely happy and will never go back to pay-TV," with another 47% saying they're "pretty happy with the decision." Conversely, 8% said they were "pretty unhappy with the decision" and 9% "hate it and wish they had the service again."

    The overwhelming lack of remorse suggests cord-cutters have been able to cobble together mostly adequate OTT substitutes to pay-TV.

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  • U.S. Broadband ISPs Add 1.2 Million Subscribers in Q1 '14, Most in 2 Years

    The top 17 U.S. broadband ISPs added nearly 1.2 million subscribers in Q1 '14, notching the best quarter of growth since Q1 '12 (see chart below). These ISPs now have 85.5 million subscribers, with top cable operators accounting for nearly 59% or 50.3 million and top telcos accounting for 41% or 35.2 million. The data is according to Leichtman Research Group.

    The top cable operator ISPs garnered 83% of the quarter's 1.2 million subscriber additions, vs. just 17% for the telcos. This compares with Q1 '13, when the top cable operator ISPs took 72% of net additions, with telcos taking 28%. LRG notes that Q1 subscriber additions historically account for more than Q2 and Q3 additions combined.

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  • Top U.S. Broadband ISPs Add Another 2.6 Million Subscribers in 2013

    The 17 largest broadband ISPs in the U.S. added over 2.6 million subscribers in 2013, down almost 105K vs. the approximately 2.7 million subscribers they added in 2012. These ISPs now have 84.3 million subscribers, with cable TV operator ISPs having 49.3 million (58%) and telco ISPs having 35 million (42%). The data comes from Leichtman Research Group.

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  • U.S. Pay-TV Industry Loses 105K Subscribers in 2013, First-Ever Loss

    The U.S. pay-TV industry lost 105K video subscribers in 2013, the first time in history that the industry has contracted on a year-over-year basis. The industry ended 2013 with approximately 94.6 million subscribers vs. 94.7 subscribers at YE 2012. The 105K loss is a swing of 280K vs. the 175K the industry gained in 2012. (see chart below)

    The data comes from Leichtman Research Group, which has tracked the top pay-TV operators' video subscriber numbers for years.

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  • Let's Get Real: TV Isn't Close to Dying and Here's a Great Slide Deck Proving It

    There is no doubt the TV industry is changing dramatically, largely due to the rise of online and mobile video viewing. But is it "dying," "imploding" or being "nuked" as some recent tech media headlines assert? No, not yet anyway. As a close observer of all things video, it's just mind-boggling sometimes to see how data is conflated to support distorted conclusions. If your company's product strategy were guided by today's headlines alone, you'd be on a course to disaster.

    To help set things straight, Piksel's Alan Wolk has put together a really good slide deck with data debunking 7 of the bigger myths floating around these days (1) cord-cutting is a mass movement, (2) kids ignore mainstream TV, (3) your pay-TV provider is the one forcing you to pay for 800 channels, (4) cutting the cord lets you stick it to the cable company, (5) second screen is all about social TV, (6) TV viewing has decreased and (7) in the future we'll be able to watch TV wherever, whenever and however we want.

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  • Survey: 48% Of Pay-TV Subscribers “Cord Cheat” with OTT Services

    Digitalsmiths has released its quarterly survey on consumer behavior around pay-TV and VOD, finding that consumers are continuing to “cord cheat,” with 48% supplementing their pay-TV subscriptions with OTT services, up from 35% reported in Q2 '13. Most popular for these consumers was Netflix (42%), while for individual movie rentals Redbox kiosks took the lead at 17%.

    Digitalsmiths believes cord cheating is a big threat to pay-TV providers and said they must adapt and better support consumer expectations. According to the survey, the top reasons consumers are choosing OTT services like Netflix, Hulu or iTunes are because they are more convenient (53%), cheaper (48%) and allow full season TV viewing (31%).

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  • Research: Nearly 2/3 of Pay-TV Viewers Know What They Want to Watch, Most Just Want Better Search Tools

    New research released today by Veveo reveals that nearly 2/3 of pay-TV viewers know what they want to watch "almost always" or "most of the time." In addition, almost 75% of them said they'd like better search capabilities from their pay-TV operator, a preference that dwarfed recommendations as an option, which was cited by less than 5% of respondents. Heavier TV viewers' preference for search was even stronger.

    According to Sam Vasisht, Veveo's CMO, whom I spoke to last week, the findings underscore the extent to which search has become an integral part of everyday life for many consumers. The fact that search has become a positive online experience for many means that sub-optimal search tools provided by pay-TV operators becomes more glaringly obvious, leading to viewer frustration and lost revenue opportunities.

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  • Study: 73 Cable TV Networks Offering TV Everywhere, NBCU Leads, Discovery Lags

    Market researcher IHS has released its first study of TV Everywhere deployments in the U.S., finding that 73 different cable networks are now allowing authenticated online/mobile access for on-demand viewing. Per the chart below, NBCU leads among the ad-supported segment, with 15 of its 18 networks offering some TVE VOD option, followed by Time Warner (Turner) with 9 networks and News Corp. and Viacom each with 6. Discovery is the only major cable network group not yet offering TVE, but IHS expect that to change soon.

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  • Study: U.S. Broadband Homes Without Pay-TV are Basically Flat at 9%

    There is a lot of talk these days about pay-TV cord-cutters and cord-nevers and how OTT providers can leverage this group to build their businesses. But a data point from research firm Leichtman Research Group last week that caught my eye suggests this market may be smaller than many people think and also not growing very fast. LRG noted that just 9% of U.S. homes subscribe to a broadband Internet service, but not a pay-TV service, up just slightly from the 8% level in both 2011 and 2012 (see graph below).

    Further, Bruce Leichtman of LRG told me that of the broadband/no pay-TV group, just 37% get their broadband from speedier and pricier cable or telco fiber deployments. That compares with 75% taking these services among other broadband subscribers (remember than cable and telco fiber are by far the most prevalent broadband services).

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  • Analyst: TV Unbundling Would Slice 50% Of Industry's Revenue

    Investment firm Needham & Company has released its latest Future of TV report, with lead analyst Laura Martin concluding that the biggest current risk to the TV industry's economics is unbundling of subscription TV channels. Martin asserts that if consumers had the option to choose their channels on an a la carte basis, rather than the multi-channel bundles that pay-TV operators currently offer, approximately 50% of today's TV revenue would be eliminated with fewer than 20 TV channels surviving.

    The draconian forecast adds a financial dimension to the ongoing debate around whether the TV industry will need to radically re-think its business approach if - and it's still a big "if" - cord-cutting gains momentum. To date cord-cutting (and "cord-nevering," where younger viewers simply don't subscribe to pay-TV as in the past) have been relatively muted, with estimates for 2012 in the 500K range. However, several key industry trends such as the escalating cost of pay-TV, changes in consumer behaviors, proliferation of connected and mobile viewing devices, the surge in OTT SVOD adoption (e.g. Netflix) and DVR-based ad-skipping all suggest that the industry's traditional bundled model could be tested over the next few years.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #182 - Cisco's Global Video Forecast; BlackArrow Linear

    I'm pleased to present the 182nd edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Apologies in advance for audio quality this week as Colin was dialing in from a London hotel room and his audio level is low.

    In today's podcast Colin leads off by sharing key takeaways from Cisco's latest Visual Networking Index (VNI) that was released this week. Cisco has been forecasting strong online and mobile video growth for years and this version continued the trend. Colin also wrote about it here.

    Then we move on to discussing BlackArrow Linear, a new product announced yesterday that enables pay-TV operators to dynamically inserts ads into live and linear video viewed on devices. Colin and I agree that it should move the TV Everywhere ball forward, helping programmers monetize better and therefore help catalyze broader video distribution.

    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (16 minutes, 54 seconds)

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  • Tipping Point? Q1 '13 Broadband Subscriber Growth Was 6x Bigger Than Pay-TV's

    New industry data compiled by Leichtman Research Group shows that broadband ISPs that account for 93% of the U.S.  market added over 1.1 million subscribers in Q1 '13, nearly 6 times the 194K pay-TV subscribers that were added in the period by pay-TV operators that account for 94% of the market.

    Broadband subscriber additions have outstripped pay-TV's for years, but the 6x ratio is more than double the average of 2.8x from the prior 2 years. The 194K pay-TV additions in Q1 were down 56% vs. the 445K added in Q1 '12, while the 1.1M broadband additions were off 15% from the 1.3M in each of the prior 2 years.

    On the surface the data suggests that cord-cutting - a shift from viewing video via pay-TV to via broadband - may finally be taking hold. But while LRG's Bruce Leichtman has indeed found an uptick in his calculations of cord-cutting (up from .2% of U.S. homes to .4%-.5%), he sees a far more nuanced picture of what accounted for Q1's swing, plus lots of uncertainty going forward.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #171 - More on Zero-TV Homes, TV Everywhere's Embarrassment and Binge-Viewing

    I'm pleased to present the 171st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. Leading us off today, Colin digs into Nielsen's new "zero-TV" homes data, part of its Q4 '12 Cross-Platform report. When Colin crunches the numbers, he concludes that the  U.S. pay-TV industry may have lost 1.1 million subscribers last year, who moved into the zero-TV category.  That would be above other estimates, which range from flat to down about 500K.

    Of course one of the industry's key initiatives to add value has been TV Everywhere, and on that front, there were refreshingly candid admissions this week from both David Levy, head of Turner's sales, distribution and sports, who said he was "embarrassed" at TV Everywhere's progress, and Lauren Zalaznick, NBCU's chairman, entertainment and digital networks, who said it's too confusing. Both are right, and there are other reasons as elaborated in the recent Ultimate Guide to TV Everywhere (free download).

    Contributing to the pressure on pay-TV providers is the ever-expanding range of quality content available online, and 2 more efforts surfaced this week, Conde Nast's new digital video network, and VEVO TV, a 24x7 music video network.

    Separate, Colin has released his excellent new white paper, "Second-Screen Apps for TV" (free download here)

    And a reminder to sign up for "Sizing Up Apple TV" a free video webinar on April 2nd featuring Brightcove's Jeremy Allaire and me.
        
    Listen in to learn more!

    Click here to listen to the podcast (20 minutes, 42 seconds)


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  • Growth in "Zero-TV" Homes is Zero Surprise

    Nielsen's new Q4 '12 Cross-Platform Report has identified just over 5 million "zero-TV" homes in the U.S., as Nielsen calls them, an increase from 2 million in 2007. Not to be confused, these aren't homes without TVs (75% of them still have at least one); rather they are homes that don't receive programming over traditional platforms (i.e. pay-TV and broadcast). Instead, almost half of them (48%) opt for OTT services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and others for content.

    The growth in "zero-TV" homes should come as zero surprise. In fact, if there's anything surprising, it's that the number isn't already higher. But who these zero-TV homes are is less clear: are they cord-cutters or cord-nevers? The fact that almost half of them are under 35 suggests many are cord-nevers. Yet, the 2 main reasons for not subscribing to pay-TV (36% due to cost and 31% due to lack of interest) suggests many cord-cutters. Either way, with only 18% of them considering subscribing to pay-TV, most may well be "permanently cordless" and beyond the industry's promotional efforts.

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