I'm pleased to present the 158th edition of the VideoNuze-TDG podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon, senior analyst at The Diffusion Group. Colin and I each back in the office, after being together at VideoSchmooze in NYC.
(Apologies in advance, the audio quality this week is diminished because we couldn't get Skype working on both ends, so I had to use a cell phone connection.)
On the opening session at VideoSchmooze with the 3 Wall Street analysts, Laura Martin, Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson, Craig made a point that cable operators are, in his opinion, "infrastructure providers," not video providers. He means that because they now supply both video, broadband and other services over the same networks, their real business is maximizing the ROI derived from subscribers' total payments for all services delivered.
To the extent that large numbers of video subscribers may cut the cord at some point down the road to use OTT services instead, cable operators would respond by trying to recapture lost revenue and margin via increased, "usage-based" pricing on broadband for heavier OTT users. Craig believes there's approximately $50/month/video subscriber of video profit margin that would need to be recouped.
In our discussion, Colin and I discuss the concept generally, and in particular whether this type of revenue shifting is feasible. Colin is skeptical whether this can happen, pointing to competitive, regulatory and consumer demand obstacles. I'm more in Craig's camp, and believe that operators would certainly try their best to accomplish this, as it's a natural thing any business would try to do.
Putting all of this into context however, it's still a largely hypothetical discussion. There isn't yet cord-cutting to an extent that operators feel the need to recoup profits through broadband. And where data caps exist they're still high enough that few subscribers need to buy more bandwidth to accommodate their OTT viewing.
Still, it's interesting to speculate on the topic, as higher broadband pricing would make OTT services like Netflix, Hulu and others relatively more expensive, therefore making them less attractive relative to pay-TV video services.
Click here to listen to the podcast (18 minutes, 18 seconds)