Telco Video Will Expand, As Cable's Sub Base Falls Over Next Decade: Kagan Study

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With the multichannel universe projected to grow minimally over the next decade, cable stands to lose the most subscribers, while telco video providers reap the most customer growth, according to the latest projections from SNL Kagan.

The Monterey, Calif.-headquartered researcher's "Multichannel Market Trends" study predicts that multichannel competitors will be chasing limited market share gains through 2019, as the total number of TV households are expected to edge up at 1.3% compound annual growth rate, while the number of multichannel subs will grow by only 1% over the span.

Consequently, SNL Kagan foresees multichannel penetration of TV households, taking a hit from the migration to online video, slipping to 84.4% as of year-end 2008 to 83.3% in 2019. Although providers are downplaying the impact of online video on multichannel subscriptions, SNL Kagan points to early-adoption trends suggesting such substitution will account for 7.1 million homes by 2013 and more than twice that number in the 10-year outlook.
Against that backdrop, the researcher believes that cable will likely experience the greatest losses: its base of 63.2 million subscribers in 2009 will decline to 60.7 million in 2019. For their part, DBS providers will see their count improve from 32.2 million in 2009 to 33.6 million in 2013. However, those distributors, too, will encounter erosion later in the period, with their customer rolls receding to 33.0 million in 2019.
For its part, the telecom industry is expected to be the only one to significantly grow its subscriber base in the 10-year outlook -- from 5.7 million to 16.7 million.
"Telecoms are well-positioned to grab the majority of new customers," said SNL Kagan analyst Mari Rondeli in a statement. "However, telco's limited footprint -- only 24% of total telco homes passed -- means cable and DBS will easily maintain the greater portion of the pie. We expect telco video services will be available to 77.8 million households in 10 years, but that still leaves about 54 million without a facilities-based video product."

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