Monday, June 27, 2011

Cable Subscriber Rolls Fall Off - Again

From Multichannel News:
By Mike Farrell

Cable subscribers continued to fall in the top 15 U.S. markets in the first quarter, while telco and satellite-TV providers took up the slack, according to a recent report by SNL Kagan.

Cable subscribers fell about 4% in the 15 largest markets in the United States, from 24.1 million in the first quarter of 2010 to 23.2 million this year, according to Kagan. In the same time frame, satellite-TV subscribers inched up 0.1%, to 10.6 million, and telco TV customers surged 24%, to 4.4 million.

According to Kagan, satellite TV showed the most strength in midsized markets like Washington, D.C. (up 3.9%), Houston (up 3.8%) and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. (up 3.3%). Telcos had their biggest video gains in Los Angeles (51%); Chicago (49.5%); Washington, D.C. (30%); and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif. (29.6%).

Cable operators saw subscriber declines in all 15 markets, with the bulk of losses in highly competitive areas like Atlanta (-8%); Dallas-Ft. Worth, Tex. (-7.7%); Chicago (-5.1%) and Los Angeles (-4%).

Overall, multichannel video subscribers were relatively flat in the period — down 0.1% to 38.2 million from 38.18 million in 2010. But some markets were hit harder than others.

Atlanta topped the list of multichannel defections, losing about 5.2% of its base; followed by Phoenix (-3.3%) and Detroit (-2.7%), with Seattle and Minneapolis/St. Paul also showing declines. In Los Angeles, multichannel video subscribers rose 3.9%, mostly due to increased telco and satellite efforts. Satellite-TV customers increased 2% and telco subscribers jumped 51% in L.A. during the period, off setting a 4% decline in cable customers.

While cable still dominates in total market share in big cities — Comcast tops the list with 11.6 million customers in the top 15 DMAs — telco market share is creeping up in major areas, Kagan said. The research house estimated that Verizon Communications’ FiOS has 23% market share in Dallas, nearly 20% in Washington, D.C. and more than 17% in Tampa- St. Petersburg and Houston.

Outside the top 15 markets, telco video market share is more than 23% in Baltimore, 20% in Richmond-Petersburg, Va.; and 15% in Providence-New Bedford, R.I.-Mass., all FiOS markets, Kagan said. The highest market share for U-verse is in Houston (17%), followed by 13% in Dallas.

Cable had its largest penetration rates — more than 71 % — in larger cities like New York, Boston and Seattle-Tacoma, but slipped to less than 50% in Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and Los Angeles, according to Kagan.

Atlanta is satellite’s most highly penetrated large market at about 44%, but it has even greater reach in mid-sized cities like St. Louis (47.1%); Nashville, Tenn.; (43.2%) and in Salt Lake City (50%). Nationally, DBS video share is highest in Springfield, Mo., at 63.8%, but lowest in Honolulu at 10.5%, Kagan added.

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