Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Where Did the Cord-Cutters Go?

The problem with the cord-cutting narrative is that, while the story sounds sexy, there haven’t been numbers to back it up. Consumers might say that they’re ditching cable, en masse, in favor of Netflix, YouTube and Apple TV. But the pay-TV industry’s results haven’t supported that.

Latest example: It appears that the pay-TV guys actually increased their subscriber totals last quarter. Not by much — something like 240,000 new accounts, which translates into a growth rate of 0.2 percent — but an increase is an increase.

Chart via Bernstein Research (click to enlarge):

So what do you want to make of that? Not much, probably — just like the subscriber declines we’ve seen in previous quarters haven’t meant that much. If we saw a sustained move in one direction or another, that would be meaningful, but for now it’s more or less a flat line.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik