from the televised-revolution dept
As such, cord cutting is clearly yesterday's news, right?
Not so much. Full analysis of the fourth quarter and full year numbers by analysts like Leichtman Research indicates that while cable operators might have had a solid fourth quarter, most of them still saw a net loss on the year. As a whole, the pay TV sector as a whole lost 385,000 pay TV subscribers in 2015, according to Leichtman:
"SNL Kagan estimates the combined cable, DBS and telecommunications (telco) sectors lost more than 1 million video customers in 2015. The 12-month decline was more than 4x the 2014 decline, and marked the third consecutive overall annual drop for the industry. That said, the waning months of 2015 carried signs of stabilization after steep losses for the better part of the year. The industry dipped by only 15,000 total customers in the period ended Dec. 31, 2015, essentially matching the losses of fourth quarter 2014."So why did cable have a better-than-usual fourth quarter? Charter, Time Warner Cable and Comcast have all been deploying faster speeds and new cable set top boxes, which appear to be luring back some customers that had previously fled to satellite and telcoTV alternatives. So what we're seeing is a lateral move of some customers between different types of legacy TV (deck chairs, Titanic, etc.), while cord cutting continues unabated in the background. Cable companies have also ramped up promotions in which they offer pay TV and broadband for significantly less than a customer can buy broadband alone -- meaning many of these tallied customers may not even have wanted (or even use) television service.
And it's worth noting these numbers may be even worse than they appear. For one thing, companies like Dish and Comcast have started including streaming video customer numbers in their legacy TV numbers to try and sooth investor worries that the legacy cable cash cow has caught a nasty case of pneumonia. You'll also note that as the housing recovery accelerates, broadband subscribers aren't growing in parallel, meaning there are millions of new home owners and renters that aren't signing up for traditional television service.
So, no, despite some analysis you'll read, cord cutting isn't "on the ropes," "overhyped," or the rogue opinion of a few mean old bloggers and journalists. It's a continued, very real consumer response to an industry that simply refuses to seriously compete on price.