Telco TV providers gaining strength according to FCC's video competition report

Americans who want competitive video services are getting their wish--for the most part--according to the FCC's 15th Report to Congress on the status of video programming competition.

FCC MVPD charts

Click here for selected stats from the FCC report.

Specifically, the report said that telephone MVPDs (multichannel video programming distributors) represented about 8.4 percent of the total subscriber universe in 2011 and that that universe expanded from 100.8 million to 101 million households between year-end 2010 and June 2012. At the end of June 2012, the report continued, AT&T (NYSE: T) U-verse and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) FiOS counted 8.6 million subscribers.

The gains came at the expense of cable operators, who saw their share of MVPD subscribers fall from 59.3 percent of all MVPD video subscribers at the end of 2011 to 55.7 percent at the end of June 2012.

The report broke down the subscriber penetration differences between 2010 and 2011, noting that in 2010, there were 132 million homes with access to at least the two DBS MVPDs. Approximately 128.8 million homes had access to two satellite providers and one cable operator, but no telco TV provider and about 42.9 million homes had access to at least four MVPDs including cable, satellite and a telco, the report said.

In 2011, 132.5 million homes were assumed to have access to at least the two DBS MVPDs; 130.7 million homes had access to at least three MVPDs (cable and satellite); and 46.8 million had access to at least four MVPDs, the report concluded.

The 185-page document fulfills a statutory mandate that the FCC report annually to Congress on competition in the market for delivery of video programming.

"When you step back from the blizzard of facts and figures, the report's principal lesson is simple--and profound. Today, more Americans have more choices when it comes to video programming than ever before," Commissioner Ajit Pai said in prepared statements accompanying the report's release.

While hailing most of the report's information as good news, Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn focused on a darker statistic.

"Nearly three out of 10 rural Americans do not have access to high-speed Internet that is sufficient to receive online video distributors' services," she pointed out in her prepared remarks, adding her "hope that these consumers are not forgotten as these services become more popular and offer more extensive programming."

Online, or over-the-top (OTT) video were also cited in the report, drawing the attention of Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who pointed out that "we view 40 minutes of Internet video each week" and that is "bound to grow now that more than a third of all households have a television connected to the Internet--often through a gaming device."

Even so, the report did step back to the basics and conclude that over-the-air broadcast television continues to hold its own. About 11.1 million households rely exclusively on over-the-air broadcast television, which Clyburn described as "one of the most affordable sources of entertainment and news."

The report placed the MVPD group into "1,141 cable MVPDs, two DBS MVPDs, two large telephone MVPDs and many smaller telephone MVPDs" noting that "each MVPD has its own business model and competitive strategy (but) there are some similarities within types of MVPDs."

For more:
- the FCC issued this press release
- and this report

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