Industry Claims That Cord Cutting Would Be A Fad Aren't Looking So Hot

from the adapt-or-perish dept

Remember when the cable industry used to pretend that cord cutting wasn't real? Or perhaps you remember that once the industry was actually willing to admit it was a real trend, they'd claim it was only something being done by losers living in their parents' basement?

Or perhaps you'll remember the cable and broadcast industry claims that cord cutting was just a temporary phenomenon that would go away once the housing markets stabilized and Millennials started procreating? Or how companies like ESPN routinely claimed that warnings about the trend were an unimportant fiction that should be ignored?

Good times.

While there are still a few sector analysts and executives here and there who'll bizarrely try to downplay one of the biggest trends in TV industry history, the numbers keep making it harder and harder to keep one's head buried a foot below ground. Last year, for example, once again saw one of the highest defection rates of traditional TV subscribers in recent memory. According to Wall Street analysts, the top pay TV providers lost 2.5 million subscribers last year alone:

Ironically the two companies that actually tried to adapt to the cord cutting trend suffered the worst losses. Both AT&T and Dish have launched DirecTV Now and Sling TV, respectively, in a bid to try and at least hoover up a few of these fleeing customers with their own streaming services. That's something to be applauded, especially since huge swaths of the sector have simply responded by doubling down on terrible ideas (from raising rates to fighting against real cable box competition). But even with adaptation, users are still fleeing to other alternatives (Amazon, Hulu, Netflix) instead.

It's not going to be getting any easier for entrenched pay TV providers, especially the ones that stubbornly refuse to compete on price. The streaming market will soon face a new rival in the form of Apple's and Disney's new Disney+ streaming service, which will be the exclusive home of most Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and Disney children's' programming:

"The clear implication is that year-over-year subscriber trends for programmers that improved throughout 2018 are set to worsen again in 2019,” Greenfield wrote. The analyst is widely known as bearish on the pay-TV sector, frequently using the hashtag #goodluckbundle in his commentary (as he did in Wednesday’s post). The cord-cutting problem promises to grow even more exacerbated as new subscription-streaming services from Disney (Disney+), WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal hit the market starting later this year. Those will via for consumers’ entertainment dollars against SVOD players like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video."

So if companies like AT&T and Dish are actually trying to adapt to reality, why are they seeing such major departures? Many of these users were on unrealistically cheap discounted promotions intended to drive adoption that ended. And some users were frustrated by the a price hike by AT&T in the wake of its latest megamerger with Time Warner. New streaming companies are also actually good at customer service, something the cable and broadband industry hasn't been able to get a handle on for the better part of a generation.

Between tight margins and an ocean of new arrivals, it's going to be pretty hard for the cable industry to make anywhere near the same profits they were used to during the heyday of cable TV. But that's generally how competition works. And you shouldn't feel too badly for the Comcasts of the world, since their solution will simply be to jack up the cost of broadband, where competition is far weaker. Still, there's a subset of executives who still seem to somehow believe they're owed a permanent position of dominance without having to work for it. That delusion is falling apart more quickly than most of them expected.

Filed Under: cable, cord cutting, over the top, streaming


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2019 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: yeah but...

    They are all electromagnetic radiation...

    And that's about as much similarity as they have with each other. The tech needed for each, the different types, the fact that higher frequencies behave COMPLETELY DIFFERENTLY from lower frequencies, makes the rest of your statement, while not technically inaccurate, total bunk as far as what you claim.

    And What I keep on saying is that it is not a true competitor to exists ISPs.

    Why not? Technically if it works as proposed, it will offer gigabit speeds at cable latency. That seems to be exactly what most cable users get today. So what makes it not a true competitor. (You have provided no evidence to suggest congestion will be an issue, a fact I have debunked multiple times)

    it will not replace mobile

    That depends. If you are talking about mobile data usage on your phone where ever you are, no it won't. But if you are talking about people who use mobile data as their home internet service because that's all they have access to, then absolutely it will replace that. Bringing this up when this isn't something I claimed is pure deflection and a strawman argument.

    never mind fibre in metropolitan areas

    Again, strawman, I never claimed that.

    Also, in metropolitan areas, it will not take that large a percentage of people to switch to it to cause congestion.

    Asserts facts not in evidence. How do you know? You know nothing about the technology or it's proposed operation, much less the technical details of exactly how they have designed it.

    Confusing a two way communication system, Internet access with a broadcast system GPS indicates a limited understanding of the problems being discussed.

    GPS is not a pure broadcast system, there is some back and forth communication between the clients and satellites. But if you REALLY want to make an issue out of it, then we can also go with current geostationary satellite ISP service where multiple customers connect to ONE satellite and there is no congestion. Also, how many customers do you need to get congestion? It's all dependent on the tech and actual usage.

    Also switching satellites, and maybe ground stations is NOT mesh networking

    Then you have no clue what mesh networking actually is.

    indeed it is basically the same as mobile phone hand off, where switching towers may also switch the exchange the tower in use is connected to

    That's mesh networking genius. Or at least part of it.

    Mesh networking in this case would be using satellite to satellite relays to connect a user to a ground station

    This is no different than how any other network works. You are apparently just technologically illiterate and arguing in bad faith.

    that comes with latency costs

    You don't think routing packets over hardline networks also come with latency costs? Satellite-to-satellite latency is extremely minimal because they use lasers and high frequency RF. This is no different than microwave internet service. It's the ground-to-space and back that has higher latencies, which is mitigated by the LEO positioning of the satellites.

    avoiding two satellites using the same relay satellite unless they are using different channels. Meshing will have its uses to gain coverage where satellites have users but cannot see a ground station, which also means serving low population density regions, think high northern latitudes, and the middle of the pacific.

    This is literally all false.

    Well how many they can launch is an open question, but low orbit satellites in particular impact launch windows, as they are obstructions to be avoided on the way to higher orbits, and when returning to Earth.

    It's not an open question. They've already been approved to launch that many and are now LEGALLY REQUIRED to launch them all in a set time window. Also, space is big.

    Also, doubling or tripling the number is an insignificant increase when considering metropolitan areas

    Facts and statistics or you are full of it.

    The final consideration is launch capacity and cadence, as if the could launch ten satellites per launch, (an optimistic figure) that will require a thousand launches.

    Considering they can launch 25 on the current F9 rocket, you'd be wrong.

    Also, due to the use of low Earth orbit, the satellites will have short lifetimes, 5 years or so, requiring even more launches.

    You're still wrong on the launch capacity, which takes your total launch estimate down quite a bit.

    Single satellite launch using the likes of stargazer would require a fleet of such vehicles, as one or two launches a week per vehicle would be a very high launch rate. Getting that number of satellites into orbit in a reasonable time is far from a solved problem.

    Have you heard of a company called SpaceX? They can launch up to 25 of these satellites on one rocket currently. And they are making progress towards development of a bigger rocket that can launch more than that at one time. I'd say they've solved the problem. You're out of touch.

    Also, data rates offered to individual users is not the signifiant number needed to evaluate the system, and what would be a much better indicator of system capabilities is how many concurrent 4k video streams can be supported in each direction by a satellite.

    Don't you think that's a bit arbitrary? I could say the same thing about ground based ISPs. Yet you don't see them touting those numbers, now do you?

    There is a good reason why telecoms companies have gone to undersea cable, rather than satellite, and due to bandwidth requirements, rather than costs.

    Technology is constantly evolving, changing, and improving. I'm sorry you've been living under a rock for the past 50 years.


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