The largest dip in cable subscriber numbers in three decades could be due to the economy, but it's no longer possible to ignore the potential impact over-the-top pressure and cord cutting is having on the pay-TV industry, said Ian Olgeirson, a senior analyst with research firm SNL Kagan.
"It's a hard one to pinpoint at this juncture," he said in a telephone interview with FierceIPTV. "Obviously, a second quarterly decline in a row, especially since until the second quarter we'd never even seen a single quarterly decline, is a little unusual."
The cable industry has lost some 1.45 million subscribers in the past six months, and there are some operators, like Charter, who say they're seeing erosion in the fourth quarter, as well.
"It is becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss the impact of over-the-top substitution on video subscriber performance," he said, "particularly after seeing declines during the period of the year that tends to produce the largest subscriber gains due to seasonal shifts back to television viewing and subscription packages.
"I would be surprised if in December we see another negative quarter... of course we were saying that in the second quarter about the third quarter as well. But, if we do, then operators can't continue to use the broadcast transition to digital as an excuse as a real source of churn. We'll have a better sense of how deeply the cord cutting really is affecting the space." For more, see this FierceIPTV article