Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Will TV Delivery Go Non-Linear?

Though communications service providers might prefer growth, they probably would not be too perturbed about a service whose take rates or  adoption was declining less than 0.7 percent annually, especially when average revenue per unit was growing about four to five percent annually.

But that is about the industry-wide dip in subscriber numbers in the U.S. market, it appears, according to Forrester Research. With the important caveat that most trends in technology, media or communications have adoption rates that vary tremendously over time, if the slow decay of traditional video subscriptions continues at present rates, change will be graceful, for content providers, video distributors and others in the ecosystem.

Of course, when new products displace older products, there tends to be a longish period when nothing too dramatic seems to happen. And then there is the inflection point, and change becomes non-linear. 

So as logical as it might seem to base actions on the theory that "tomorrow will pretty much be like today," that will prove a dangerous notion if change goes non-linear. And big changes that affect "most people" often have a non-linear adoption pattern, in the end. 

If that is the case, we might not be able to infer very much from current trends in subscription TV. 
Forrester Research Pay-TV decline

Mobile adoption, for example, shows the non-linear adoption pattern. Adoption patterns, especially in India and sub-Saharan Africa illustrate the difference between pre-inflection point growth and post-inflection point growth.

The same is likely to happen to subscription TV, if online delivery really develops as a substitute product. 

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