Cord-Cutting Fears Overblown? Pay-TV Industry May Actually Grow Slightly in 2014

Emmys Writers Directors

Cable, satellite and telco TV operators in the U.S. expected to eke out gain of 600,000 total subscribers this year, Parks Associates projects

Don’t write a eulogy for pay TV yet. Even though bills keep climbing — and Internet-video options like Netflix are expanding rapidly — cable, satellite and telco TV operators may eke out a small net gain of customers this year.

In 2014, U.S. cable, satellite and telco TV are expected to end the year with 103.1 million subscribers, up just a smidge from 102.5 million last year, according to new study by Parks Associates. That’s just a half a percentage point of growth, which means pay-TV has effectively plateaued. But the industry’s fear that the Internet could cut away a sizable portion of its customer base has — so far — not been realized.

SEE ALSO: Cord-Cutting Slows in Third Quarter, But Pay TV Is Still Shrinking

Incumbent cable operators have been hardest hit over the last few years with sub losses, as consumers have switched to satellite and telco providers. But earlier this week, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts touted a reversal for the nation’s biggest MSO: For the first time in nearly seven years, Comcast added video subscribers in the fourth quarter (though he didn’t provide a figure).

Pay-TV providers could keep their customers happy and prevent them from canceling service by introducing new features, Parks’ surveys indicate. 

Remote access to DVR content was the most-cited feature among pay-TV households surveyed by Parks, with 31% of respondents expressing interest in it. Of the biggest operators, only Dish Network offers remote access to DVR content, through its Slingbox-enabled Hopper DVR.

By comparison, 27% said they want TV Everywhere — access to video content outside the home on mobile devices — and 26% said they were interested in personalized recommendations.

Parks timed the release of the report for the 2014 International CES, being held this week in Las Vegas.

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  1. birminghamforsale says:

    What they haven’t disclosed is how many of their customers are cable shavers, people who cut back on the premium subscriptions and opt for a combination of basic cable plus streaming. That will undoubtedly become a huge problem for paid TV, as they can claim they aren’t losing subscribers, while trying to hide the fact that their subscribers have ditched the overpriced premium options.

  2. Greg says:

    If remote access/TV everywhere is what is attracting customers, then the paid TV providers better hope that they can keep the masses in ignorance. I have that already and I don’t pay for TV. For OTA TV, I use Simple.TV to give me remote access/TV everywhere. Aereo and Tablo are also on the horizon to do the same thing for many more Americans. Even Channel Master’s new DVR+ can do this, when combined with a Slingbox.

    And, of course, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, Vudu, iTunes, and a lot of other streaming services offer the same thing.

    It will take a lot more than that to get me to ever again be in the clutches of the cable cabal.

  3. Generic Name says:

    Cable companies have taken to offering cheaper Basic Cable+Broadband packages than if you just get Broadband alone to prop up their falling numbers.

  4. Brewer says:

    You can subtract 1 customer from Mr. Roberts list of customers. I just cancelled my Comcast TV service in favor of Internet only viewing. My family could not be happier. We watch what we want when we want to. No commercials, no overpriced TV packages.

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