TV's Fiscal Cliff? Maybe Just A Bump In The Road
The TV economy has its own ongoing election: whether or not to continue voting for one's particular monthly TV service -- cable, satellite, etc.
In a post U.S. election period there isn't necessarily a fiscal cliff looming, though there could be a pay TV drop of some sort.
Bernstein Research shows that, overall, pay subscriptions have been generally flat year-to-year when looking at all multichannel TV distributors -- cable, satellite and telco. According to Bernstein media analyst Craig Moffett, that flatness is not good news, because there is some slow, growth in new household formation, which means pay TV subscriptions should be climbing to keep pace -- but they hasn't.
So in effect there is pre-emptive cord cutting. Maybe call it future cord avoidance -- slow moving changes. A little more than 90% of all U.S. TV homes have some kind of monthly subscription TV service.
Look at financial results from the likes of traditional cable TV operators -- Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cablevision Systems Corp., for example -- and you'd have to say some companies have been well prepared for this. Repeated quarterly results virtually always have shown slow, declining basic cable subscribers.
But, at the same time, those companies have also consistently posted always-growing data (broadband) and voice (phone-mobile) business. The same can't be said of the mostly video-only satellite TV businesses of DirecTV or Dish Network.
So it may not be a fiscal cliff for TV -- possibly a pothole for some, or a massive sinkhole for others.