A new report from MoffettNathanson today might say it's about cord-cutting, but it seems it’s really about the revived strength of the housing market.
It says, a nutshell, that the pay TV operators--cable and satellite--added 101,000 new customers in the fourth quarter of 2014.
But the housing market growth was bigger than that, so those additions aren’t so dramatic. To reverse the saying, cable and satellite has been up so long, this should look like down to them.
The research paper jokes that every quarter when it issues its state of pay-TV report, “our report is invariably cited as evidence as evidence cord-cutting is taking off--like a rocket,” regardless of the numbers MoffettNathanson cite.
The Census Bureau reported a surge in new household formation stronger than at anytime since before the recession. Based on that, the number of new pay TV households lags the universe of possible households, leading Craig Moffett and Mark Nathanson’s firm to conclude “cord cutting appears to have accelerated markedly.”
It's what happens now that is going to be important to watch.
The wild card in their report is that in Q4, a lot of things hadn’t happened yet--and still haven’t, for that matter. HBO and Showtime’s new service, and new cable-avoidance things, like Dish’s Sling TV and Sony’s alternative delivery method, still haven’t arrived (Sling TV just started). Vut this report says, logically, “collectively they have to matter.”
But this report is a nice bookend to another one from Parks Associates, “Consumer Segmentation: OTT Video Buyers” that concludes 17% of current broadband subscribers in the U.S. will purchase the new HBO OTT service when it becomes available, that 91% of them currently subscribe to a pay TV service, and that about half will cancel the pay service when they the new HBO Go. That survey also happened in the fourth quarter of 2014.
So 2015 is the OTT year when “someday” happens. And something. And somehow. It's all pretty unclear.
Sometime this year, in millions of American homes, calculators are going to figure out how much (if anything) can be saved by stitching together homemade systems consisting of new OTT systems. So in 2015, the numbers could start to add up.
As Streaming Media.com cautions, though, “once you look at the cost of replacing some of the content you, lose when you get rid of cable or satellite—and perhaps lose the savings you get when you no longer receive your Internet access as part of a bundle—the cost-savings isn't nearly as significant as it might initially appear.”
Of course, or should I say "certainly," something else will happen. Major disruption is just around the corner.
MoffettNathanson says: “A year from now, the fourth quarter may well be viewed as the calm before the storm. ” But it also says continuing “the incessant focus on the new OTT aggregation models of traditional pay TV content is little more than a diversion. Everyone is looking in the wrong place.The real revolution is likely to come from new content makers entirely, delivering entertainment to millennials through entirely different distribution models.”
It adds, the “timetable” for that revolution might have been showing through in the Q4 results.