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Pay TV Loses Another 113K Subscribers

15 November 2013 3,070 views No Comment

Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. Like lots of folks, I get a thrill watching the pay TV suppliers, especially the cable companies, in pain and they’re definitely suffering, if only a little.

LA Times, quoting Moffett and Nathanson data, reports that pay TV providers lost 113,000 subscribers in the third quarter. Digging down a little, cable operators lost 687,000 subs while telco and satellite providers picked up 574,000 new customers.

“The pay TV industry has reported its worst 12-month stretch ever,” Moffett and Nathanson wrote.

As satisfying as that is, it’s only part of the picture. Yes, cable providers have lost millions of subscribers over the last year or so, but the revenue trend is heading in the other direction, rising by 5.1 percent.

“Of course, the fact that pay TV revenue is still rising smartly is part of the problem,” Moffett and Nathanson wrote. “We have always argued that cord-cutting is an economic phenomenon, not a technological one. … Pay TV revenue growth reflects rapid pay TV pricing growth and that is precisely the problem. Rapidly rising prices are squeezing lower-income consumers out of the ecosystem.”

However, while Moffet and Nathanson may be right about the big picture, their report doesn’t address three growing cord cutter trends — binge watching, streaming-only content and the growing number of young consumers (See also: Cord Cutting: Doing the Cable Math Is an Eye Opener) that have never subscribed to traditional pay TV services.

Clearly, cord cutting and pay TV haven’t yet hit an inversion point. Nevertheless, like music, publishing and advertising, the future is online and the pay TV old guard will hit the wall, sooner of later…

What’s your take?

Image above: Cover of GigaOM’s Cut the Cord: All You Need to Know to Drop Cable ($4.99, Amazon)

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