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Analysis for 'Broadband ISPs'

  • VideoNuze Podcast #525: Comcast Focuses On Broadband

    I’m pleased to present the 525th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia. As always we wish our listeners all the best and hope everyone is staying well.

    This week Colin and I discuss Comcast’s Q2 ’20 earnings, which underscored how critical broadband is becoming to the company, with video further receding. Comcast has stated its broadband focus for a while now, but the pandemic is accelerating the impact on the company’s financials. In Q2 broadband subscriber gains were at a record high, as cord-cutting took a toll on video subscribers and NBCUniversal. The percentage of subscribers to a single Comcast service (broadband) are up significantly.

    Comcast’s broadband focus means that both Peacock and Flex, its streaming media player, are critical pieces for leveraging broadband subscribers into OTT services, advertising and devices. This is prompting Comcast to offer 3rd party video services, like Sling TV, for the first time. Comcast’s transformation is part of larger changes in the industry toward OTT and CTV that every company is now pursuing.

    (Separate, Colin also describes an interesting webinar series he’ll be hosting starting August 10th, “The Psychology of the Subscriber” which will probe the consumer’s decision-making process when signing up for SVOD services. Registration is free.)

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  • Interview with Cisco Cable Access CTO and Fellow John Chapman

    Next up in our ongoing series of short interviews with industry thought-leaders about the pandemic's impact is a Q&A with John Chapman, who is CTO and Fellow of Cisco's Cable Access business. John is uniquely positioned to understand how cable TV's broadband Internet access networks have performed recently given the unprecedented streaming traffic created by stay-at-home rules. Q1 results have shown a surge in broadband subscribers and the service tiers they're subscribing to.

    VideoNuze: With millions of people working at home, videoconferencing and streaming video, what has it all meant to cable broadband service providers in terms of network usage growth rates?

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  • Comcast’s Broadband Network Supports Usage Spikes

    Yesterday Comcast shared select network data on how significant changes in consumer behavior have been due to virus-driven stay at home guidelines. Comcast said that since March 1st, peak traffic is up 32% overall, and 60% in some geographies. Peak or “primetime” for downstream traffic has shifted from 9pm to 7pm-8pm and peak time for upstream traffic has changed from 9pm to between 8am-6pm (no doubt reflecting the widespread use of two-way videoconferencing apps, which Comcast said is up 212%).

    Comcast noted spikes in specific types of video viewing: streaming (up 38%), VOD (up 25%) and gaming downloads (up 50%). Even linear TV appears to be increasing (up 6% or 4 hours per week, to 64 hours per week). No doubt reflecting our stationary lives, Comcast said that LTE mobile data usage was down 10% while WiFi mobile data usage was up 24% since March 1st. Comcast said that its network is “performing well” and that it is running over 700K speed tests most days.

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  • The Virtuous Cycle of Broadband, CTV and OTT Will Accelerate

    Over the past few years a powerful virtuous cycle of wired broadband Internet access, connected TV and over-the-top premium content has taken hold, disrupting the traditional TV and pay-TV industries. This virtuous cycle is going to accelerate going forward, causing further instability for established providers and significant opportunity newer entrants.

    Robust broadband is the foundation of the virtuous cycle. Today Leichtman Research Group reported that U.S. homes subscribing to broadband cracked the 100 million level for the first time. Big cable TV operators, who have been offering broadband for 25 years, are the winners, now accounting for 67% market share, vs. 33% for big telcos. That’s up from a 64%-46% split 2 years ago in Q3 ’17. Big cable TV operators continue to gain subscribers (830K in Q3 ’19, up 14% vs year ago) while telcos continued to lose them (down 225K in Q3 ’19, the biggest quarterly loss in over 3 years).

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  • Comcast Wisely Reduces Xfinity Flex Price to Zero

    Yesterday Comcast made a smart move by converting its Xfinity Flex service to free for its broadband-only subscribers, eliminating the $5 per month charge that was in place since its launch this past March.

    Colin and I discussed Flex on our podcast back then, and while we both liked its overall value, we found the $5 per month fee to be a head-scratcher. Paying the equivalent of $60 per year for a streaming device with 10K mostly older content titles seemed limiting as other companies were competing aggressively on price and streaming sticks could easily be bought for $30 or less.

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  • Another Strong Year for Cable Broadband Growth Fuels TV’s Disruption

    The biggest U.S. cable companies added nearly 2.9 million broadband subscribers in 2018 according to a new report from Leichtman Research Group. That was up from 2.7 million subscribers added in 2017.

    Cable-delivered broadband continues to dominate, with 65% share, compared to telcos’ 35%, the biggest gap since Q3 ’03. The biggest telcos collectively lost over 470K broadband subscribers in 2018, slightly better than the 620K they lost in 2017. The top providers combined now have 98.2 million broadband subscribers.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #443: Comcast is on Roll in Broadband

    I’m pleased to present the 443rd edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    Comcast is on a roll in broadband. In a highly saturated market, Comcast managed to add 334K residential broadband subscribers in Q3 ’18, nearly double the 182K it added a year earlier. On today’s podcast, Colin and I discuss the factors that are driving Comcast’s broadband growth and how the company has fully pivoted to a “connectivity” strategy.

    The only wrinkle is that Comcast could be more aggressive in defending its video business. While subscriber losses improved in Q3 ’18 vs. a year ago, the macro trends of  skinny bundles, SVOD, cord-cutting, etc. are unremitting. It’s still not clear Comcast has an aggressive response, other than to be an “aggregator of aggregators” via X1 and continually reiterate it doesn’t want to pursue low margin video services (i.e. skinny bundles).

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  • At Comcast, Broadband Takes Center Stage

    Last Thursday, Comcast reported a loss of 95K residential video subscribers in Q3 ’18, an improvement over the 134K it lost in Q3 ’17. Losing subscribers is never something to be celebrated, but amid the onslaught of skinny bundles, SVOD, cord-cutting, etc. the improvement was noteworthy (and certainly reflected the fact that AT&T slowed its promotion of DirecTV Now in Q3 ’18, which is why it gained just 63K skinny bundle subscribers, down from 323K a year ago).

    For Comcast it was a welcome relief from Q2 ’18, in which it lost 140K video subscribers, over 4x the 34K it lost in Q2 ’17. On its Q2 earnings call, Comcast executives acknowledged that skinny bundles were taking their toll, and yet they did not seem to articulate an aggressive response. But Q2 ’18 also saw the addition of 260K residential broadband subscribers, up from 175K adds in Q2’17. Given how highly saturated the residential broadband market now is, this jump seemed surprising, and yet, it was barely explained on the Q2 earning call.

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  • VideoNuze Podcast #436: Evaluating Verizon’s New 5G Home Service

    I’m pleased to present the 436th edition of the VideoNuze podcast, with my weekly partner Colin Dixon of nScreenMedia.

    This week Verizon announced the introductory offer terms for early customers of its 5G Home service in 4 launch markets. Colin and I are both impressed with how strong the offer is and also how targeted it is to cord-cutters. We discuss Verizon’s strategy, and more broadly what impact Verizon and other upcoming 5G launches will have on the broadband and pay-TV industries.

    In particular, the pairing of 5G with a skinny bundle (as Verizon has done with YouTube TV) has caught our attention as likely to resonate well with consumers, especially with aggressive pricing. Still, we’re cautious that 5G has to perform as advertised and that 5G rollouts will be long and expensive. Potentially significant market disruption is still likely years away.

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  • Verizon Announces Aggressive, Video-Focused Offer for 5G Launch

    Verizon has announced an aggressive, video-focused offer for its initial 5G launch, underscoring how potentially disruptive wireless telcos could be for both broadband and pay-TV services.

    Starting tomorrow morning, residents of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento will be able to visit “First on 5G” to determine whether Verizon 5G Home service is available in their area. If it is, then the service will become available beginning October 1st (though it’s not clear how quick activation would be). The introductory package is extremely compelling and includes:

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  • Comcast Q2: Skinny Bundles Are Taking Their Toll On Video Business, But No Defense Of It Is In Sight

    Comcast reported its Q2 ’18 results this morning, with the good news being the addition of 260K broadband subscribers, the best Q2 the company has experienced in the past 10 years, along with the improvement of operating margins. The broadband surge was Exhibit A for management to point to on the earnings call as evidence its strategy of being a “connectivity” provider is paying off.

    However, Q2 ’18 also saw the loss of 140K video subscribers, the most in a Q2 since 2014. Video sub losses have accelerated from -4K in Q2 ’16 and -34K in Q2 ’17. On the earnings call, management put the blame squarely on virtual MVPDs or “skinny bundles,” adding that they “expect pressure to continue in the video business” as virtual MVPDs ramp up.

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  • Akamai: Global Average Connection Speed Up 15% In Q1 ’17 vs. Q1 ’16

    Broadband connections keep getting better, enabling video and other high-bandwidth applications, according to Akamai’s Q1 ’17 State of the Internet Report. Global average connection speed was up 15% vs. a year ago, to 7.2 mbps, with 96 of the 149 countries/regions that Akamai tracks seeing an increase.

    Perennial leader South Korea had the fastest connection speed, at 28.6 mbps, followed by Norway (23.5 mbps), Sweden (22.5 mbps) and Hong Kong (21.9 mbps). All of the top 10 countries has an increase vs. last year’s Q1 except South Korea, with dropped modestly. The U.S. broke into the top 10 in the number 10 position at 18.7 mbps, up 22% vs. a year ago, the biggest change among the group. A total of 25 countries/regions had an average speed of at least 15 mbps, up from 23 in Q4 ’16.

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  • Akamai: Global Average Connection Speed Up 21% In Q3 ’16 vs. Q3 ’15

    Akamai has released its State of the Internet report for Q3 ’16 finding, among other things, that global average broadband connection speed increased 21% to 6.3 Mbps vs. Q3 ’15. The country with the biggest jump in the past year was South Korea, which increased 28% to an average 26.3 Mbps, with Hong Kong next, up 27% to an average 20.1 Mbps. South Korea continues to have the highest average connection speed.

    The US had an average connection speed of 16.3 Mbps, with the top 5 and their improvement over Q3 ’15 as follows: District of Columbia (24.8 Mbps, up 1.8%), Delaware (21.4 Mbps, up 9.8%), Utah (21.4 Mbps, up 13%), Massachusetts (21.1 Mbps, up 11%) and Rhode Island (20.7 Mbps, up 5.4%).

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  • Demise of Vessel and Google Fiber is a Reality Check for Online Video

    Online video is booming. But that doesn’t mean all industry initiatives will succeed. Two examples in just the past two days illustrate the point. Yesterday Verizon announced it was acquiring Vessel for an undisclosed amount in what appears to be a straightforward asset purchase and talent acquisition. And on Tuesday, Google Fiber announced that it was stopping all expansion into new markets. Both companies’ leaders, Jason Kilar at Vessel and Craig Barratt at Google Access, will be departing their positions.

    While the two companies operate in distinct segments of the market - Vessel in content and Google Fiber in infrastructure - both were bets on new business models and consumer demand that do not seem to have panned out.

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  • No Surprise, Google Fiber is Falling Short of Expectations

    This morning’s WSJ article, “Google’s High-Speed Web Plans Hit Snags” chronicles how Google Fiber has fallen way short of expectations and has experienced ongoing technology/deployment issues since its initial rollout 4 years ago. None of this surprises me and loyal VideoNuze readers will recall I was deeply skeptical from day 1, when I wrote, back in July, 2012, “Google Fiber is Out of Synch With Realities of Typical Consumer Technology Adoption.”

    Google Fiber’s main value proposition and differentiator have always been 1 gigabit per second broadband service. But the problem is that very, very few people wake up in the morning wishing they had 1 gigabit so that, for example, they could stream 4K videos on 10+ devices at the same time, which is one of the key benefits Google Fiber promotes. Even as streaming video usage in the home has soared over the past 4 years, with the proliferation of high-quality video services and connected TV devices, most users have been satisfied with the quality of their broadband connection.

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  • Cisco VNI: Video Will Account for 85% of North American Internet Traffic in 2020

    Cisco has released the 11th edition of its Visual Networking Index (VNI), forecasting that video will account for 85% of North American Internet traffic by 2020, the highest of any geographic area. Video traffic in North America will grow at a compound annual rate of 21%.

    Globally, video-related traffic will account for 82% of Internet data, up from 70% in 2015. In a briefing, Thomas Barnett, who oversees the VNI, characterized video as the “king of all content.” In fact, video dwarfs every other Internet application, with the second biggest - web/data usage - representing just 14.4% of traffic in 2020, a fraction of video’s 82%.

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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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  • Synacor Provides United Online With New Video Portal

    ISPs NetZero and Juno, both part of United Online, will deploy Synacor’s web portal, which includes syndicated content including “Don’t Miss” an original video program covering TV shows, the companies announced this morning. The portal also includes joint monetization opportunities. The portal uses responsive design for optimization across desktop and mobile devices. NetZero and Juno maintain over 1 million active accounts across broadband, mobile broadband and high speed dial-up.

     
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  • Akamai: 15% Of World's Broadband Is 4K Ready As Ecosystem’s Embrace Accelerates

    Akamai has released its Q3 2015 State of the Internet report and, as always, it is chock full of details about global Internet connections. One of the more interesting data points Akamai found related to online video is that 15% of the world’s Internet connections now average 15 mbps or higher, the speed Akamai has designated to be “4K ready.” That’s up from 12% in Q3 ’14.

    South Korea once again had the highest percentage of connections above 15 mbps, at 45%, which was actually down from 66% in Q3 ’14. In second place was Sweden at 38%, up from 29% a year ago, followed by Norway at 37%, up from 21% a year ago. Switzerland and Hong Kong  (both at 36%) rounded out the top 5 countries that are 4K ready.

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  • Sandvine: 70% of North American Peak Period Downstream Internet Traffic is Video and Audio

    Sandvine has released its December, 2015 Global Internet Phenomena report, revealing that video and audio traffic now accounts for 70.4% of North American downstream traffic on wired networks in peak period. Sandvine said that 5 years ago, video and audio accounted for less than 35% of peak period traffic.

    Netflix has become even more dominant in the past year, now with 37.1% of downstream traffic, up from 34.9% that Sandvine reported in November, 2014. Among other popular services, YouTube was in second place with 17.9% share (up from 14% share in Nov. ’14), Amazon Video was fourth (3.1% share, up from 2.6% in Nov. ’14), iTunes was fifth (2.8% share, flat from Nov. ’14), Hulu was sixth (2.6%, up from 1.4% in Nov. ’14) and Facebook seventh (2.5%, down from 3% in Nov. 14).

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