Cable Subscriber Rolls Fall Off — Again


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

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