Despite Cord Cutting, Video Subscriber Households Grow


Despite all the notable talk about video cord cutting and a shift to over the top consumption of video, between year-end 2010 and June 2012, the number of subscribers to video entertainment services grew from 100.8 million to 101.0 million households, the Federal Communications Commission says.

The report also confirms the prevailing and conventional wisdom that competitors continue to take market share from cable TV providers. Cable market share fell from 59.3 percent in 2010 to 55.7 percent at the end of June 2012.

Satellite providers in 2010 had 33.4 million video subscribers, accounting for 33.1 percent of all subscribers in 2010. By June 2012, satellite providers had 34 million subscribers, representing 33.6 percent market share.

Telcos in 2010 had 6.9 million video subscribers, representing 6.9 percent market share, increasing to 8.6 million customers by 2012, representing about 8.4 percent market share.

The number of households relying exclusively on over-the-air broadcast service remained steady at approximately 11.1 million households, although the percentage of all households they represent increased slightly from 9.6 percent in 2011 to 9.7 percent in 2012.

There is one notable and overlooked strategic advantage one can glean from the report. The terrestrial providers are limited in terms of addressable market by the extent of the number of homes they actually pass with their networks.

Comcast passes 52.8 million homes while AT&T passes 30.3 million. Time Warner passes 29.4 million homes, while Verizon passes 17 million homes.

DirecTV and Dish Network pass 132 million homes, meaning their marketing efforts arguably are more efficient. They can market nationally and deliver nationally.

In 2011, there were 132.5 million homes in the United States and all of them had had access to at least the two satellite providers.

About 130.7 million homes had access to at least three providers (a cable provider and two satellite providers).

Some 46.8 million homes had access to at least four suppliers (cable, two satellite and a telco).

For long time observers of the cable industry, perhaps the most “shocking” fact is that Comcast and Time Warner Cable have penetration in the low 40 percent range. In the 1990s both had penetration more in the 70 percent range.

Edited by Alisen Downey

Contributing Editor

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