Monday, February 15, 2010

Video Cord Cutting Threat is Overestimated, Parks Associates Says

Despite the growing amount of video available online, less than eight percent of U.S. broadband households, or about 5.5 million households, are considering canceling their multi-channel subscription services in favor of online video, according to Parks Associates. You may interpret that as good or bad news.

The 2008 study found 11 percent of U.S. broadband households were considering canceling pay-TV services, and in an earlier 2009 survey, the number was 10 percent. The upside is that people might be finding it is harder than they thought to replace their current multi-channel video experience with alternative sources.

Where there clearly seems to be more danger is in the area of churn. As many as 2.75 million of those households report they are considering a switch to a new service provider. That's the bigger danger, as consumers do not have to change behavior or lose any of the value when switching providers, but might save some money, or even increase perceived value for equivalent levels of spending.

Online viewing is correlated with switching propensity, though. Parks found that households saying they are likely to switch or cancel their services watch 10 hours of online video each week, much higher than typical video consumers.

They express strong interest in having online access to pay-TV channels as well. Such video-intensive customers also use offline video, such as DVD rentals, at higher rates than typical consumers do.

Their median number of DVD rentals from the last six months is 18, compared to two rentals among other households.

“Just 0.5 percent of broadband households appear to have cancelled their video subscriptions, according to  John Barrett, director, research, Parks Associates.

In fact, the profile of a "switcher" is someone who does not watch much TV. That makes sense. Though conventional wisdom is that "heavy" users are more likely to "cut the cord," in reality it is light users who are most prone to cancel their service, simply because the value-for-price equation is not so high.

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