Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

“Cord Cutting Used to Be a Myth. It Isn’t Anymore.”

poltergeistThe pay TV business used to be a slow-to-no-growth business.

No more: Now it’s shrinking.

Here, via analyst Craig Moffett, are the most recent numbers for the big pay TV providers that just finished submitting their Q2 reports to investors. They’re down 360,000 subscribers over the last year, or a decline of 0.3 percent.

That’s not a huge decrease, and Q2 is usually a bad quarter for the pay TV guys. But, as you can see, the industry has now been in decline for three consecutive quarters:

pay TV q2 2013 numbers

Cord-cutting skeptics used to argue that the reason the industry wasn’t growing was because the housing market was shrinking: No new houses/homes, no new cable subscribers — no need to blame Netflix, iTunes, etc.

And, while lots of people are still living with their parents, the housing market is picking up, so the pay TV decreases are more significant. Moffett figures that the industry suffered a net loss of 911,000 subscribers in the last year. The year before that, it had lost 258,000.

Also note that this isn’t a matter of cable subscribers from Comcast or Time Warner Cable going to competitors. Satellite TV providers Dish Network and DirecTV are also losing subs, and while telcos AT&T and Verizon are still growing, their rates are slowing.

“Cord cutting used to be a myth. It isn’t anymore,” Moffett writes in a new note. “No, the numbers aren’t huge. But they’re statistically significant.”

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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