Comcast reported a strong Q4 '10 this week, and in particular, by cutting its basic subscriber loss to 135K, from 199K a year ago, bolstered the argument that cord-cutting has been over-hyped. Lost in some of the coverage is the fact that Q1 is a traditionally strong quarter for the pay-TV industry and so some reversal of the last few quarters' losses was fully expected. In Comcast's and other pay-TV operators' favor was the improving economy. which Comcast and other operators have pointed to as the main driver of subscriber losses, not emerging over-the-top options.
The next few quarters will tell us a lot more about what's happening in the pay-TV industry. While I've been skeptical of mass-scale cord-cutting that others have prognosticated, the core issues remain steady changes in consumer behavior favoring online alternatives (paid and free) that are easier to access and the ever-higher monthly cost of pay-TV services, which will inevitably induce some segments to cut back or just not start a subscription in the first place. We'll see.
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