Corporate Planners Should Watch the People Who Watch TV

Carl Weinschenk

The effect that ebbs and flows in entertainment video subscriptions have on the networks available to businesses is debatable. On one hand, of course, video products are separate and distinct from those used by businesses. These are two separate endeavors that overlap only slightly.

But they share some infrastructure, especially in the small- and medium-sized business sector. The fate of video programming has a more subtle impact, though, in a couple of ways: On one level, it will influence capital expenditure budgets and how that money is applied. The increasing use of mobile devices to consume video program will influence what devices employees buy and, therefore, affect Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) work arrangements.

Corporate planners should take note that the face of video distribution seems to be changing. That’s been apparent for some time as over-the-top (OTT) programming has gained traction. That trickle became a torrent during the first quarter of the year. MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett reports that in 2017, traditional video subscription networks posted the worst first quarter ever, according to FierceCable. The comparison of subscriber losses to the year-ago quarter (141,000 subscribers versus 762,000 subscribers) makes the point even more starkly.

Dish Network lost 143,000 subscribers and AT&T lost 266,000 subscribers. Programmers also took it on the chin: They lost a collective 495,000 subscribers, which was a worst ever decline of 1.3 percent.


A study released last month by GfK MRI should also be of tangential interest to corporate planners. The bottom line is that “cord cutters” and “cord nevers” (those who were video subscribers and left and those who never were, respectively) have very different profiles. The importance to corporate planners is simply the idea that the market for video is diffuse and likely to grow more so. Thus, the poor results reported by MoffettNathanson are unlikely to be an aberration. In other words, people’s habits are changing permanently and a wider array of video delivery approaches is the new normal.

The Consumerist provides five reasons that the cord cutters and cord nevers categories have not grown. Many feel that the current non-cable options are too cable-like. Others simply like cable and don’t see the new approaches as an improvement. Some people move slowly, while telcos and cable companies make it difficult to leave. The point is that each of these can be addressed and the universe of subscribers not tied to a phone or cable company expanded.

Corporate planners don’t need to follow this issue on a day-by-day basis. They should have it on their radar, however. How the cable and telephone companies shape their networks is deeply influenced by the way in which subscribers want their entertainment programming delivered. This, in turn, will make a big difference in the networks available to their businesses.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

 


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