Scripps TV Hit By Cord-Cutting

Think all broadcast-related TV platforms are doing well in the new TV/digital age? Maybe when it comes to skinny bundles. But not when it comes to traditional cable, satellite, or telco pay TV providers.

In its most recent third-quarter financial period, E. W. Scripps' TV stations lost 2% to 3% in subscribers coming from traditional multichannel video program distributors.

For new digital OTT streaming linear TV network packages, Scripps has seen gains -- in particular, from Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV.

Many analysts have worried that cable networks -- especially medium-sized cable networks and some sports cable networks -- could be in trouble when it comes to “skinny” TV bundles.

These “thin” new streaming TV packages will not include all cable TV networks. Typically, that's around 200 to 300 in traditional TV packages; thin packages contain 50 or 60.



On a per-subscriber level, however, CBS says things are much better in this new digital TV world for its TV stations. It gets “double” per subscriber from these new packages than via its traditional TV packages, according to Les Moonves, chairman/CEO of CBS Corp.

Key in the future is scaling up business for TV stations -- in terms of overall revenues. The early reading is that a couple of million for subscribers of new digital TV packages hardly compares to the 100 million pay TV subscribers, the existing pay TV ecosystem.

Scripps TV stations' issues seem to be sucked into the bigger whirlpool of new TV consumer behavior: cheaper TV bundles.

Traditional TV networks and their TV affiliates have long been a key reason for keeping TV customers in the pay TV system. Some of this logic may be fraying around the edges. Future trends favor new live, linear TV services from YouTube and Hulu.

Now, even though Scripps lost coverage in terms of subscribers to pay TV providers, it still registered a 20% gain in the third quarter to $64 million. Plus, executives say total retransmission revenue looks to climb by 15% next year.

For its part, CBS looks to pull in some $2.5 billion in total retrans fees and reverse compensation by 2020.

All that means existing and new TV providers of live, linear TV networks still like what they see from old TV.

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