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Analysis for 'Cord-Cutting'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #426: Magid’s Cord-Cutting Research; Sling TV Updates

    I’m pleased to present the 426th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    First up on this week’s podcast, we discuss Magid’s latest research showing another uptick in cord-cutting intent among pay-TV subscribers, especially for millennials. Even sports fans are now considering cutting the cord. Perhaps most surprising, cost is no longer the main motivator; it’s not watching enough TV to make it worth it.

    That’s indicative of more pay-TV subscribers shifting their viewership to SVOD, and suggesting an opportunity for low-cost virtual pay-TV operators to gain momentum. One such player, Sling TV just made some interesting updates to its service this week which we discuss.

    I think the Magid research is part of the reason why we need to revise how we talk about cord-cutting. Increasingly, I think an equally, if not more appealing, option for prospective cord-cutters will be downgrading to a skinny bundle, rather than dropping entirely. More on this on VideoNuze soon.


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  • Research: Cord-Cutting Intent is Up, But Pay-TV Households Stay Steady

    Magid released highlights from its new Media Consumption Survey 2018 at VidCon last week, including unsurprisingly, that cord-cutting intent is continuing to rise, especially among millennials. 7.9% of pay-TV subscribers age 18-64 years-old said they were “extremely likely” to cancel their service in the next 12 months, up from 6.1% in 2017. But 14% of millennials said they plan to do so. Even 10% of live sports enthusiasts said they are “very likely” to cut the cord.

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  • Traditional Pay-TV Subscriber Loss in Q1 Slows to 305K

    Traditional pay-TV operators accounting for around 95% of the market lost 305K subscribers in Q1 ’18, compared to 515K in Q1 ’17 according to Leichtman Research Group. The loss is net of 405K Sling TV and DirecTV Now skinny bundle subscribers gained in the quarter by Dish and DirecTV, compared to 265K added in Q1 ’17. Backing out the skinny bundle gains, traditional pay-TV lost 710K subscribers in Q1 ’18 vs. a loss of 710K in Q1 ’17.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #411: TiVo Data Explains Traditional Pay-TV’s Downward Spiral

    I’m pleased to present the 411th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Colin and I share details from TiVo’s new Q4 ’17 Online Video & Pay-TV Trends report (download here), which shows how the high cost of multichannel TV subscriptions is leading to a record level of cord-cutting. The TiVo report also shows how SVOD has gained loyalty and that broadcast TV remains critical for many viewers.

    All of this adds up to a dynamic which Colin and I only see firming up further: consumers becoming more proactive through more cord-cutting and cobbling together SVOD subscriptions with low cost, “good enough” skinny bundles and/or antennas. Skinny bundles like YouTube TV, which includes broadcast will become market leaders, while those that don’t (or don’t offer a solution like Sling TV does) will be challenged. Absent a new catalyst, we see this as the state of play in the TV industry for the foreseeable future.

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  • Cord-Cutting Accelerates, Top Pay-TV Operators Lost Nearly 1.5 Million Subscribers in 2017

    The top 13 pay-TV operators in the U.S., which represent around 95% of the total market, lost nearly 1.5 million subscribers in 2017, double 2016’s loss of 760K subscribers, according to Leichtman Research Group. However, the loss would balloon to nearly 3.1 million subscribers after deducting the 1.6 million skinny bundle or “vMVPD” subscribers that were added in 2017. The 3.1 million multichannel subscriber loss is about 62% higher than the 1.9 million lost in 2016. The top 13 pay-TV operators ended 2017 with approximately 92.2 million subscribers.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #401: Top Video Trends for 2018

    Happy New Year! I’m pleased to present the 401st edition of the VideoNuze podcast, and our first of 2018, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    As is our tradition, we discuss our top trends for the new year. 2017 was extremely busy for the industry and we expect 2018 to be no different. Among our top trends are wireless providers pushing deeper into video, YouTube TV starting to break out among skinny bundles, cord-cutting accelerating and Amazon pursuing many different opportunities to build its video business. We also discuss 4-5 additional trends to watch.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #394: Skinny Bundles Gain As Cord-Cutting Accelerates

    I’m pleased to present the 394th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Pay-TV operators are likely to have lost around a million video subscribers in Q3, while skinny bundles (or virtual MVPDs as Colin likes to call them) may have gained around 900K. In this week’s podcast Colin and I talk about these dynamics and what kinds of consumer behaviors are driving these changes.

    For the skinny bundles, a big part of the growth is AT&T’s deep discounting of DirecTV Now to support its wireless service. Among others, YouTube TV, with its widespread broadcast coverage and major World Series promotion, is also poised to grow strongly.

    But how much of skinny bundles’ gain is coming at pay-TV’s loss is still murky. No doubt some people are swapping, but I question how much they’re actually saving per month, and whether churn will ultimately be high as they realize certain networks aren’t included. Conversely, Colin sees these as “good enough” solutions when combined with SVOD services.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #371: Pay-TV Losses Are Being Driven By More Than Just Cord-Cutting

    I’m pleased to present the 371st edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    The persistent media narrative around pay-TV cord-cutting has gained a lot of traction in the past few weeks as it became clear that the industry lost 700,000-800,000 traditional multichannel video subscribers in Q1 ’17, the first time a first quarter loss has ever occurred.

    But pay-TV’s losses are attributable to key factors beyond cord-cutting as our guest this week, Bruce Leichtman, president of Leichtman Research Group, and a premier industry analyst, explains. Bruce reveals why the Q1 loss in fact has more to do with specific pay-TV providers (primarily Dish Network) cutting back on new subscriber promotions. This reduction in “top of the funnel” additions ultimately flows into the net subscriber numbers.

    While cord-cutting is indeed ticking up, Bruce walks us through his analysis of why the industry’s dynamics are more nuanced than most media reports suggest. We also dig into the role of connected TVs, the prospects for skinny bundles, SVOD’s impact and how Comcast in particular is bucking industry trends using X1. Bruce also discusses the significance of there now being more broadband subscribers than video subscribers in the U.S.

    (Apologies in advance, the recording is a bit scratchy as we were in 3 locations and had some WiFi challenges.)

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    Click here to listen to the podcast (24 minutes, 57 seconds)



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  • Research: 22% of U.S. Broadband Homes Don’t Have Pay-TV, Double Vs. 2011

    As of year-end 2016, 22% of the 100 million U.S. homes that subscribe to broadband did not also subscribe to a pay-TV service. That’s up from 9% of the 85 million U.S. homes that subscribed to broadband but did not also subscribe to a pay-TV service in 2011. Over the course of 2016 alone, the rate of broadband homes subscribing to pay-TV declined from 82% to 78%, resulting in 22 million broadband homes without pay-TV at the end of last year, compared with 8 million in 2011.

    The data comes from a new report from The Diffusion Group, “Life Without Legacy Pay-TV: A Profile of U.S. Cord Cutters and Cord Nevers” that has just been published.

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  • Research: Pay-TV’s High Cost is Creating Huge Industry Vulnerability

    TiVo has released its 16th quarterly Video Trends Report (previously published by Digitalsmiths, which was acquired by TiVo in 2014) and the key takeaway is that pay-TV’s high cost is creating huge industry vulnerability that is already showing up in increased cord-cutting/cord-shaving and higher penetration and use of SVOD services. It also looks possible that interest in skinny bundles could be fueled by their low cost compared to traditional pay-TV.

    TiVo found that in Q4 ’16, 17% of respondents didn’t subscribe to a pay-TV service, and of this group, 19.8% cut the cord in the last 12 months. No surprise, “price/too expensive” was the top factor influencing respondents’ decision to cut the cord, cited by 80.1% of them. But in second position was using a streaming service such as Netflix/Hulu/Amazon, which was cited by 48.3% of respondents.

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  • Research: 30% of Millennials Are Cord-Nevers or Cord-Cutters

    New research from GfK MRI reveals that 30% of US millennials (18-34 year-olds) are cord-nevers or cord-cutters (dubbed "cordless"), almost double the rate (16%) of Boomers, the next generation up. In all, millennials account for 43% of the cord-never population.

    No surprise, cordless millennials are focused on online video alternatives, saying they spend 65% of their time using these services. Conversely, Boomers said they spend just 36% of their time with online video services and 56% with linear TV. Millennials’ favorite services included YouTube, Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, with others including Crunchyroll, Twitch and Adult Swim also scoring highly.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #348: Cord-Cutting Update; How Do Ads Fit Into Video’s Future?

    I'm pleased to present the 348th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    We lead off this week with a cord-cutting update, based on reported Q3’16 results from the 11 largest pay-TV operators in the U.S. Video subscriber losses expanded a bit, to 255K in Q3 ’16 vs. 210K in Q3 ’15, with a continuing shift to cable operators and away from satellite and telco. As I wrote on Wednesday, depending on how the DirecTV Now, Hulu and YouTube skinny bundle launches in 2017, subscriber losses could accelerate.

    We then shift to discussing new TiVo survey data that provides insights about online video viewers’ tolerance for ads. As Colin points out, despite respondents stating they have a low tolerance, their behavior suggests otherwise. That suggests there’s more potential for ad-supported premium video, in addition to the SVOD model that has thrived.  

    Speaking of ads, I also point out the surprising research from Brightcove this week, that 46% of people who watched a branded video on a social platform then made a purchase. That’s the kind of performance that gets marketers’ attention and could portend an increase of more TV ad dollars moving to social.

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  • Startup CobbleCord Helps Cord-Cutters Navigate Video Choices

    We are in the era of “Peak TV,” where hundreds of original programs are spread across many different free and paid video services and TV networks. For those who no longer want to spring for pay-TV, assembling the right mix of OTT, SVOD and skinny bundles to cost-effectively access desired programs is very confusing.

    Now a startup named CobbleCord is aiming to address this, using a 4-part set of user-provided information about viewing preferences to return a list of custom recommendations. CobbleCord was started by Virginia Juliano, a 10-year Showtime marketing executive, who walked me through how CobbleCord helps users “cobble” together the most appropriate video services for them.

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  • Cord-Cutting Remained Modest in Q2 '16, As Cable Operators Continue to Gain

    Major pay-TV operators made it through another quarter without any substantial acceleration in cord-cutting, according to industry data tallied by analysts MoffettNathanson. In Q2 ’16, pay-TV operators lost an estimated 757K subscribers, compared with a loss of 683K subscribers in Q2 ’15. Note also that the second quarter is always the seasonally weakest. When estimated Sling TV subscribers are added in, the loss declines to 708K in Q2 ’16 vs. 613K lost in Q2 ’15.

    In a continuing trend, cable operators again picked up market share at the expense of telcos and satellite providers. Cable’s loss in Q2 ’16 declined to 242K subscribers from 404K lost in Q2 ’15, while telcos swung from a gain of 5K subscribers in Q2 ’15 to a loss of 526K subscribers in Q2 ’15. AT&T accounted for the vast majority of that loss (minus 391K) as it transitioned U-Verse subscribers to DirecTV. Verizon had a loss 41K vs. a gain of 26K a year earlier as it experienced an employee work stoppage.

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  • For Comcast, Another Quarter of Strong Improvement in Video

    Comcast reported its Q2 ’16 earnings this morning, once again showing strong improvement in video subscribers and keeping cord-cutting in check. The second quarter is always seasonally slow in the pay-TV business, but Comcast reduced its video subscriber loss to just 4K in Q2 ’16, its best performance in over 10 years. The trend in just the past 4 years is impressive; Comcast has steadily reduced its subscriber loss from minus 69K in Q2 ’15, minus 144K in Q2 ’14 and minus 162K in Q2 ’13.

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  • Comcast Defies Cord-Cutting (Again), Reporting 53K Video Subscriber Growth in Q1 ’16

    Comcast is on an epic roll. Despite years(!) of cord-cutting warnings by the blogosphere and analysts, Comcast once again proved the naysayers wrong, adding 53K video subscribers in Q1 ’16. It was the best first quarter in 9 years for the company and easily eclipsed the loss of 8K subscribers in Q1 ’15.

    The Q1 gain builds on the strong year Comcast recorded in 2015, losing just 36K subscribers vs. a loss of 194K in 2014. Remarkably, Comcast now has 25K more video subscribers that it did one year ago (22,400K vs. 22,375K).

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #313: SVOD Adoption Surges, But Cord-Cutting Remains Minimal

    I'm pleased to present the 313th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week brought 2 data points that seem at odds with one another: even as SVOD penetration has crossed 50% penetration of U.S. TV households, cord-cutting remained minimal, with the pay-TV industry losing just 385K subscribers in 2015.

    While that number is up substantially over 2014’s loss of 150K, it still represents just a .4% contraction. That seems relatively modest given Netflix alone is now in 45 million U.S. homes. Many had predicted that as SVOD grew it would be a substitute for pay-TV, but increasingly it seems like a complement.

    Colin asserts SVOD will indeed be a substitute for pay-TV for many in the years to come with cord-cutting sharply increasing. There are lots of reasons to believe this, and yet pay-TV continues to remain quite resilient. We debate how things will unfold.

    Listen now to learn more!

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  • Cord-Cutting Remains Muted As Major Pay-TV Providers Lost 385K Subscribers in 2015

    Cord-cutting remains one of the industry most-talked about themes, but it still appears relatively muted. According to Leichtman Research Group’s calculations, the 13 biggest pay-TV operators, which account for about 95% of the industry, lost approximately 385K subscribers in 2015. While that’s up from a 150K loss in ’14 and 100K loss in ’13, it still represents a minuscule .4% subscriber contraction, hardly the free fall many observers have long been predicting.

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  • Survey: SVOD Usage is Up, But Pay-TV is Still Hugely Popular, Even Among Millennials

    Perhaps the biggest question weighing on the pay-TV ecosystem these days is whether younger viewers who have acclimated themselves to a strictly SVOD diet will eventually become pay-TV subscribers or whether they’ll remain “cord-nevers.”

    The traditional narrative is that as younger viewers settle down, buy a house, make more money and have kids they’ll end up subscribing to pay-TV just like their parents did. With the booming array of inexpensive OTT substitutes, that expectation has become feeling ever more tenuous.

    But a new survey of 1,111 U.S. 18+ year-olds by Clearleap seems to suggest the narrative still has legs, with 91.3% of those over 30 years-old saying they either currently or previously subscribed to pay-TV. That’s a big jump from the 73.5% of 18-29 year-olds that said they have subscribed at some point, which means 26.5% of the age cohort are technically “cord-nevers.” 64.4% of 18-29 year-olds say they currently subscribe to pay-TV while the subscription rate for all respondents to pay-TV was 78.9%.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #290: Deep-Dive Q&A With Sports TV Expert Lee Berke

    I'm pleased to present the 290th edition of the VideoNuze podcast with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    On this week’s podcast we do an in-depth Q&A with our guest Lee Berke, who runs LHB Sports, Entertainment and Media, Inc. Lee has helped dozens of teams create and implement sports TV networks. He has a wealth of insights into the role of sports in pay-TV and how online and mobile video are causing leagues and teams to adjust their traditional distribution strategies.

    Sports are a key driver of increased pay-TV rates and as VideoNuze readers know, I’ve been writing for years (examples here, here, here) about the billions of dollars non-fans pay each year in the form of a “sports tax” - subsidizing expensive sports networks they never watch. With the advent of robust, inexpensive OTT entertainment programming options, the pay-TV multichannel bundle has come under more pressure than ever, with subscriber losses peaking in Q2 ’15.

    In our Q&A with Lee we explore these issues and how he sees OTT impacting teams, leagues and sports TV networks. Lee believes TV will remain the most significant revenue source in sports for the foreseeable future, but also sees the leagues more aggressively experimenting online to serve a new generation of fans. Lee also describes how he’s advising teams, particularly on how to maintain flexibility and capitalize on new technologies.      

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