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


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 5:47pm

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

    Sorry, I was slightly unclear, but the the two groups I meant were ocean areas, for ships and planes, and rural areas, which are, at any instance, served by different satellites.

    Perhaps different physical satellites, but it's the exact same network as rural areas. There is no difference in how they are served.

    Just like cell towers, there is a limited amount of spectrum for satellite use, and that has to be shared between base station and user links, and any inter-satellite links.

    This is no different than the limited amount of copper or fiber in the ground to transmit customer and carrier data. The spectrum available is not the issue, it's how the spectrum is used, and you can use it in such a way that what you describe doesn't happen.

    So long as the ground end uses narrow beam serials, satellites can use the same spectrum, except when close to each other, when one can suspend operation.

    You really don't know how any of this works, do you? Either that or you are being deliberately ignorant. To use your cell tower analogy (since you are so fond of it) When your phone travels between two towers, the towers are both using the same spectrum, one tower doesn't suspend operation just because your phone isn't getting full signal to it, no your phone intelligently hops to the better tower, allowing both towers to operate simultaneously. Satellites are no different, just different spectrum frequency.

    Assuming that the ground station link and total user links have the same (total) bandwidth,

    Well that's a great big assumption now it isn't it? You do realize that traditional ground based broadband is ridiculously overprovisioned right? If all the users of say Comcast, were to suddenly start using their max amount of allotted bandwidth, it would far exceed the total backhaul Comcast has to the internet backbone. But that doesn't matter because everyone never uses their full bandwidth all at the same time, and even if they did, there are such things as QoS and other network management techniques that prevent the whole thing from crashing or seriously degrading end user experience.

    mesh networking only becomes useful a satellite is out of sight of a ground station, that is is may improve area coverage, but it does not improve capacity into a given area.

    Not true. It does improve capacity because multiple satellites in one area can handle more user uplinks than one single satellite could on it's own. And if one satellite gets overloaded with traffic, ground stations can switch to different satellites and BYPASS the overloaded satellite, thereby effectively increasing capacity. Seriously, go actually read on how this all works.

    The New York metropolitan area covers 11,640 km squared, and with dense populations cell towers for each carrier are serving cells of 1km square or less where high population density exists..

    Which is still FAR less than 5000 cell towers in one metropolitan area, which was your original claim.

    5G plans are looking at 200m spacing

    Because 5G runs off of a higher frequency that doesn't get good penetration in densely populated areas, therefore tighter spacing.

    The 5000 satellite will cover the whole planet. ,

    Which has jack all to do with anything you just said. They operate on completely different frequencies and different broadcast technologies. YOU CANNOT COMPARE THE TWO TO EACH OTHER, THEY ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

    Honestly. Are you seriously this ignorant? Or are you deliberately arguing in bad faith, willfully ignoring facts and reality just because you can't stand being wrong?


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Show Now: Takedown
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.