Are the cords that tie consumers to pay TV services fraying? Or not? As the first of the fourth quarter reports roll in, my e•mail box has grown elephantine with such questions.
So I've spent a lot of time in the last few days digging through data, analyst pronouncements, actual reports and the like. And the straightforward answer to the big cord-cutting or not-cutting question is (drum roll):
I don't know.
What's more, I'd bet a new Apple
TV that, even when all the numbers are in, we'll still be scratching our heads.
So what do we have so far?
Aside from some feel good pronouncements from selected analysts, what we have is:
On the plus (ie no cord cutting) side: Verizon FiOS
has reported video subscribers up by 182,000 for 4Q10 while AT&T U-verse
reported a net video gain of 246,000. DIRECTV
has not reported yet but last month CEO Mike White
told analysts that's he's looking to a 4Q gain of 60,000 which would certainly bolster the plus side.
On the down side (so far) we have Time Warner Cable
which, despite a stellar financial performance, came out on the down side of Wall Street's basic video expectations to reveal a loss of -141,000.
If you take just the results reported so far (discounting Mr. White until he unveils the actual numbers), we stand at a +287,000 in basic video subs so far. Which is certainly cheering.
Except for yesterday's report from Netflix
which told Wall Street and all known media outlets that it now boasts of 20,100,000 million subscribers. Which compared to currently known numbers for other top players, puts it at No. 2 in the MVPD universe. And if Netflix achieves its projections of 1Q11 subscribers totaling 21.9M to 22.8M it could well pass the Comcastic Xfinity
service to take first place in total subscribers. Which leaves us with a universe that (so far anyway) looks like at least some Trojans have slipped through the gate.•