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2/25/2011 9:57:00 AM
FiberSlasher Member #: 4750 Registered: 1996-2001
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Cord-cutting: Easier Said Than Done


Cord-cutting: Easier Said Than Done

By : Erik Gruenwedel | Posted: 24 Feb 2011 

Worldwide cable TV market penetration slowed in 2010, despite the addition of 56 million pay-TV subscribers, according to new findings.

ABI Research said the total number of pay-TV subscriptions, which can be accessed via cable, satellite and Internet connections, is expected to top 745 million this year, with highest growth rates in the Asia-Pacific region.

While traditional cable growth may be slowing, scuttlebutt regarding downsizing cable subscriptions in an era of less-expensive repurposed content streaming via Netflix and Hulu is overblown, BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield said.

“Despite all the cord-cutting noise, following DirecTV/Dish Network results in the past 24 hours, we believe multichannel video subscribers were up slightly in [the fourth quarter], and in turn, were up for full-year 2010,” Greenfield wrote in a post.

Indeed, multichannel video subscribers topped 100 million last year, up from 99.9 million in 2009 and 98.7 million in 2008. Major cable operators such as Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, Cox and Cablevision lost a combined 525,000 net subscribers in the fourth quarter, compared with a net gain of 561,000 satellite and telecommunications subs.

For the year, cable operators jettisoned 2.1 million subs while satellite and telecommunication providers gained 2.3 million.

With monthly average-revenue-per-user increasing due to higher fees charged, conventional wisdom suggests users would welcome cheaper alternatives. But Greenfield cautions that absent a dire economic calamity such as losing a job or home, actually making the switch from cable/satellite to Internet-delivered content via connected devices and televisions remains a stretch.

“Live sports, premium/pay TV content (HBO or Showtime), broadcast programming (such as ‘American Idol’) and most basic cable network content are simply impossible to replicate over broadband,” Greenfield wrote.

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