One of the existential questions for pay-TV providers
like cable, telephone and satellite companies is whether
Americans are turning to the internet and digital video
providers for their TV needs. Communications analysts
peruse the quarterly results of those companies closely
looking for signs of the decline of traditional TV providers.
In the third quarter, there was some evidence that more
people had indeed “cut the cord.” Time Warner Cable
lost 140,000 video subs in the period, even more
than had been expected. Comcast lost 117,000
video subscribers. Subscriber growth at
DirecTV slowed substantially, as it did at
Verizon FiOS. Dish Network lost 10,000
Sanford C. Bernstein estimates that,
when you add estimates for losses at private
companies who do not issue quarterly reports,
the industry as a whole lost 127,000
subscribers in the quarter.
The cable and telephone companies are
making up some of the revenues by adding high-speed
broadband subscribers–but the increase in those
customers actually increases the chance that they will be
watching video online rather than on pay-TV. The TV
Everywhere program is an effort by pay-TV providers to
get their share of what seems the inevitable migration of at
least some viewing to the web. According to Joe Clayton
CEO of Dish Network, “Faced with slow subscriber growth,
plus faster-than-inflation programming cost increases, there
is no question that the entire industry will have to rethink its
current business model and strategy.”