Internet TV services like DirecTV Now and Sling TV may be getting a lot of buzz these days, but they won’t become a major contributor to TV revenues for years to come, said Activate CEO and co-founder Michael Wolf at Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. Tuesday.
“We don’t think that this is gonna really take off,” Wolf told his audience during his presentation of Activate’s Tech and Media Outlook 2018. These services would be able to capture 10% of all TV households in the next five years, he estimated.
Part of the reason for this is that big parts of the country still don’t have the necessary broadband infrastructure to support streaming. “The delivery infrastructure is a problem,” Wolf said during an interview with Variety.
But ultimately, there was also a value problem with many of these services. “Skinny bundles are going to get fatter,” he said, and more costly as well. Add your broadband connection to it, and consumers don’t really save any money. “It’s not that great of an offer,” Wolf said. That also explains why Activate sees churn rates of 50 percent for internet TV services, compared to 19% for video subscription services and just 1% for traditional pay TV.
The good news is that consumers are willing to pay. “A lot of people are going to come back to TV because they want sports,” said Wolf. And among the streaming audiences, a subset of super-users is willing to pay more to watch more: 21 percent of video subscription users are paying for three or more services this year, according to Wolf.
That’s why Wolf also disagreed with IAC chairman Barry Diller, who had argued earlier on Tuesday that the boat had sailed on video subscriptions, thanks to the strength of Netflix and Amazon. “Hulu has a fighting chance, Disney does also,” Wolf told Variety.
However, this still doesn’t mean that video subscriptions are a gold mine for everybody. Compiling this year’s report, Activate’s researchers found that there are currently over 110 niche video subscription services. “Most of these won’t survive,” Wolf said.
Check out the entire slide deck for Activate’s Tech & Media Outlook 2018 below: