Failures

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
broadcast, cable, cord cutting



Cord Cutting Sets More Records, Yet Many Cable Giants Still Refuse To Compete On Price

from the adapt-or-perish dept

Despite the obvious realities that ratings are sharply down and consumers are cutting the cord, there's a vibrant and loyal segment of cable and broadcast executives and analysts who still somehow believe cord cutting is a myth. Every few months, you'll see a report about how cord cutting is either nonexistent or overstated. Often, they'll try to claim that cord cutters are just lame weirdos they didn't want anyway, or that this is just a temporary trend that stops once more Millennials procreate.

Newsflash: it's not stopping.

The latest data from Kagan indicates traditional pay TV providers lost another 1.3 million subscribers last quarter as users continued to flock to streaming alternatives, embrace the use of over the air antennas, or embrace piracy (something analysts traditionally never mention, as if acknowledging this fact somehow condones it). A big part of this latest surge in losses were courtesy of Dish Network, which saw a record 367,000 departures as its satellite TV customers flocked to greener and cheaper pastures, including Dish's cheaper Sling TV alternative.

Industry analyst Craig Moffett, who used to be among those who mocked cord cutters as irrelevant, has dramatically changed his tune over the last few years. He continues to point out that these numbers are actually worse than they appear, since new homeowners and movers aren't signing up for traditional cable at their new addresses:

"It is the largest quarterly loss ever (the first time the industry lost over 1 million subscribers in a quarter),” writes Craig Moffett, senior research analyst, MoffettNathanson.

“With traditional pay TV penetration still hovering close to 80%, one would have expected growth of about 200,000 more subscribers per quarter on average than a year ago, based solely on the new household formations,” writes Moffett. "To the extent we are not seeing these new households in the subscriber data, we can conclude that cord-cutting has accelerated more than it appears, based on the reported subscribership data alone."

Obviously an 80% penetration rate for traditional cable is nothing to sneeze at.

But while traditional cable TV is still the preferred viewing option du jour, it's equally obvious that the industry needs to adapt sooner rather than later. Many of these customers are older viewers scared by new technology who won't be around for ever. Many others are sports fans, who still struggle to find streaming alternatives to cable given many broadcasters' painfully slow adaptation to this new paradigm, something exemplified by the aggressively terrible losses seen by ESPN in recent years. But leagues like the NFL are very slowly but surely figuring out that direct to consumer streaming is the future.

And while a few companies like Dish and AT&T have figured out that they have no choice in offering cheaper, more flexible viewing options (Sling TV and DirecTV Now respectively), much of the sector remains stuck in a dance of dysfunction that includes refusing to compete on price. Whether it's Charter's decision to mindlessly raise rates on the heels of its latest merger, or Comcast using bullshit fees to covertly jack up your monthly rate, there's a cavalcade of industry executives who haven't received one obvious message: the traditional cable cash cow is dying, and price competition and better, more flexible offerings are the only path forward.


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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 19 Nov 2018 @ 10:38am

    Define Compete

    By raising the price of internet service, Spectrum is making their cable offering more competitive!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2018 @ 10:54am

    or that this is just a temporary trend that stops once more Millennials procreate.

    I always loved this argument like having kids was going to save the cable industry, when the reality for me is that all of my friends cut the cord specifically once they started having kids.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2018 @ 1:12pm

      Re:

      One would think that in order for millennials to sign up for cable they would first need to be paid a living wage - no?

      Do these cable folk even do market analysis? It does not appear to be the case.

      Funny thing - I have have several door to door people try to convince me to sign up for xfinity - LOL. I just close the door while saying good bye.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      bob, 19 Nov 2018 @ 1:23pm

      Re:

      When a baby is born you cut the cord not connect one!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2018 @ 11:06am

    or embrace piracy (something analysts traditionally never mention, as if acknowledging this fact somehow condones it)

    Some segment of the population (probably small, but vociferous) clearly thinks that way, given certain types of repeated comments here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymouse, 19 Nov 2018 @ 11:34am

      Re:

      Most people I know have embraced piracy because to get everything that they want to watch they basically have to subscribe to every service and it ends up being a significant amount of money every month.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2018 @ 1:15pm

      Re:

      It is not like those who cut the cord all of a sudden begin piracy, but the cable morons want everyone to think so. Maybe they could provide some evidence of this ... I'm not holding my breath.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 20 Nov 2018 @ 9:43am

        Re: Re:

        I suspect a lot of that comes from being unable to conceive of the idea that their product(s) just aren't that good, such that if people aren't getting it from cable they simply must be getting it from another source, with the idea that people just don't care that much not even crossing their minds.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    NeghVar (profile), 19 Nov 2018 @ 11:20am

    They do not compete because they are also the ISP. If things on the cable side get too uncomfortable then they just have to make streaming video unappealing. Since they can do whatever they want to their own lines, just increase the prices, implement data caps and zero ratings, and throttle the streaming sites.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 19 Nov 2018 @ 12:07pm

    Percentages and the best way tp lie..

    I love how people use numbers, and percentage is one of the most abused.

    There is an advert about Colorado, and the 14 year olds MJ smokers went up 94% in 1 year..Looking it up, I think it started at 8-9 and almost doubled.. 94% means nothing if you dont have a base number. it could be Any number then go up 94%..
    The one I love most, is the unemployment numbers..We always hear percentages, but WHAT is the Base number? The USA has had a Job problem since the release of Slaves in the South, and it PArt of why we had a Civil war. Then we restrict by Age in the early 1900's and Again when we placed a retirement age at 65, and again when we Stopped Teens working on farms until 16. The Workers available is based on <25% of the population. Which is around 75 million. And a 10% unemployment rate is only 7.5 million.
    I would love it if it was based on 1/2 the population, but its not.

    Being a corporation telling other corps numbers means you can just give them percentages..AND if they dont know the base number, thats ok, and totally stupid of them NOT TO KNOW..
    Then you get the corp that thinks OK, we lost 3% we can raise the price 3%-5%...and still profit.
    Then they loose another 3%..and the next year its the same..

    Where is the logic of raising prices? Why do they include Channels that 40-60% dont want?(ESPN) and its the most expensive channel..
    Combining 90% of the channels cots less then $20 in total. And you could sell that for $30 and make HUGE profits. but then they want you to add the BETTER channels, which are JUST AS CHEAP..but cost you another $10 per set.

    THEN..
    A person goes to a neighbors home and see's that he dont have cable, he has a Good antenna, and still gets 40-50 channels...from local broadcasts.. NOT all of them are good, but you have a selection that WASNT on the cable..including many old series and Rare shows..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2018 @ 1:18pm

      Re: Percentages and the best way tp lie..

      "There is an advert about Colorado, and the 14 year olds MJ smokers went up 94% in 1 year."

      Not surprising, their bullshit generator is working overtime.
      I recall after that initiative passed, there were silly stories about MJ overdoses and what a tragedy it was.
      Such bullshit never gets old, sad that some actually believe it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2018 @ 12:57pm

    why do you care?

    Karl - are you writing about this because it's your beat, or do you actually care if the cable companies start going out of business?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2018 @ 2:28pm

    I really don't care what they do with the cable company PPV. I'm not likely to ever go back. To get me back would take real bargains on channels. The ability to pick and choose channels, a serious slash on the price without it going back up some time later (and I do mean serious which I have yet to see them get down to without some sort of kicker at the end), and some drastic changes to the ads and quality of program offerings.

    I don't expect to see that and the above is the bare minimum it would take.

    I quit PPV and tv over 12 years ago now. I don't care to watch any program, any series, nor any movie. Sports hold no attraction to me.

    I stopped PPV over the poor quality, the ads on my dime, and the lack of programs I cared to see back then. Nothing has gotten better since.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2018 @ 2:40pm

    I get MOST of my TV from the Antenna!!! My Internet is still from Comcast, but they do just about anything you can to get you on TV service, which normally is cheaper then Intenet only.

    I actually got someone to get me Internet at a lower price than having to get basic TV also. It's not much cheaper, but still cheaper. I had the basic TV last year and the free basic cable box. I still watched my TV with the Antenna so I could record the content with my Tivo. The Basic cable box never left the cardboard shipping box it came in.

    What I don't get from the Antenna, I get from Netflix. Between the 2, I have more than enough stuff to watch. In fact, I have too much. I also have ripped all my hundreds of discs and put them on my NAS. I can stream that to any room in my house without having to dig through so many discs.

    The thing is, if you can't watch something, you really can't miss it. At first sure, but it's been a number of years since I've cut the cord and so I don't miss content on channels I don't get.

    Paying all this money for a bunch of channels that I could never watch it all, or even close. I still can't now after cutting the cord. When I can get ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, PBS all in HD and 5.1 Surround plus METV, AntennaTV and others. my TIVO is recording content almost non-stop. Lots of old Classic TV. if you've never seen it, then it's NEW to you!!! I have memories of it as a kid and can remember some of it.

    Pirating content is easy enough, but with so much legally FREE content, there's not much need to. Back as a Kid, we didn't have cable tv. We used a Antenna. There was not as many channels back then. We have to use one of them antenna turners to get certain channels. Not the best receptions. No DVR, No Internet. Nothing like we all have it these days.

    Cutting the cord may be hard at first, and you sure as hell don't need to sign up to all these services. It's a waste of money. An Antenna, and pick 1 to sign up for and that's it.

    You can do tricks such as myself these days. If you like Game of Thrones for example. Wait until the season is over or almost over that month, and then binge watch the whole season. You pay for 1 month and then cancel. Then next year repeat. CBS All access to Star Trek, same thing. It's cheaper than buying the season of the show and faster. While you have time, watch whatever else you want to also. Then you get your money's worth. Next year, sign up again for 1 month. Now instead of paying $180 a year, you pay $15 for the 1 month, or whatever the monthly service charge is. It's 100% legal. You're paying a month of service.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      yankinwaoz (profile), 19 Nov 2018 @ 4:24pm

      Netflix DVD

      I went old school and actually pay Netflix for the DVD service. I use them to rent the premium cable series. I watched GoT and Silicon Valley this way. Worked out great.

      Yes. I'm 6 months to a year behind my HBO subscribing coworkers. But I don't care. I have more than enough in the back catalog to consume until Netflix DVD rents the next season.

      And with the Netflix DVD, I also fill my queue with heaps of nice foreign films that we enjoy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Jess Passin, 20 Nov 2018 @ 5:51pm

        Hail ancient "yankinwaoz"! Since 27 Feb 2007!

        108 comments total now, average dropping to 9 per year, a bit intermittent with 18 and 40 month gaps.

        ODD, but not so much as others.

        By the way, I interpret name as "yank (an American) in Western Australia", which seems unlikely to me: I've been there and it's dull flat hinterlands, like Kansas only with the horrors of the ocean too.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Nov 2018 @ 5:31pm

    A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

    I remember back in 69 when CATV was being introduced in the greater LA area. Absolutely all the theaters ( both sit down and drive in ) and the TV stations were going batshiat crazy.

    Vote NO on proposition whatever the hell it was because free TV would disappear and the theaters close down. Didn't care too much as was on my way to SE Asia.

    Fast forward to 1979. Had my first house and got cable. No internet except dial up back then. Set top box had a slider fro the channels and a dial "fine tuner ". IIRC it was about 10.00 a month including HBO. No commercials on HBO except for about 5 mins between movies they'd plug what was coming up.

    Jump forward again to 2016. Cable, basic only, and internet was running over 120.00 per month. Extra charge for set top boxes, extra charge for HD, extra charge for this that and the other. And that was with the "promo deal". Yeah no thanks.

    Well now I have internet only, an OTA antenna and Firesticks running KODI on the 3 TVs.

    So I don't get to watch "live" shows as they air but honestly even if they are on local channels I get OTA I can't stand the 20 min of commercials during a 1 hour show. I just watch them a couple hours later or the next day.

    So I get local news and weather OTA and stream everything else. No I don't have Netflix or any other streaming service. So all I pay is for the internet and a VPN.

    Cheaper than CATV or streaming services and I watch what I want when I want.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    trollificus (profile), 19 Nov 2018 @ 6:37pm

    Crazy alternatives!!

    I remember cancelling Comcast and asking myself "How can it get worse?" a few years ago, and soon thereafter started reading about the inevitable progress of "IF greed, run silos.exe".

    Soon as I saw this projection being verified, I started hoarding books. (remember? Words on paper, frequently without any visual component at all?)

    Think I'm gonna sit this round out...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    trollificus (profile), 19 Nov 2018 @ 6:53pm

    Note: I'll retain internet access, but not as a primary source of social interaction, entertainment or "current opinion"...I know, I'll be woefully uninformed as to the days "twitter outrage" and embarrassingly unfamiliar with the latest exchanges of witticisms between 24-year-old "author/influencer/ally"s and 75-year-old Heritage Foundation pundits.

    I expect to survive with my understanding of how the world works largely undamaged.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 19 Nov 2018 @ 8:13pm

    I read the headline and a song came into my head...

    Blaze of Glory.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2018 @ 2:40am

    Oh boy, are all services that are based on watch when we tell you to in for a surprise when YouTube generations buy their own homes. They have gotten used to arranging their viewing around their other activities, rather than their other activities around their viewing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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