Here’s a bit of news that cable and telco TV providers can rejoice in together. According to Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett, online video watching is not causing a drop in pay-TV subscriptions. Despite recent articles touting the cord-cutting trend, and high-profile experiments in dropping subscription TV service from industry personalities like Daisy Whitney, the general consumer population isn’t giving up on pay TV. As Moffett referenced, AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Charter, Time Warner, and DirecTV signed up 441,000 subscribers in Q4, nearly 50,000 more than a year ago. And this despite a recession – when free TV can be a pretty compelling proposition.
There are many reasons to adore online video, but equally there are many reasons it’s a secondary avenue for television content rather than a first: big-screen HDTV quality, the ability to browse programming (channel up, channel down), sports exclusives, guaranteed availability of shows beyond the big networks, and DVR functionality with your TV remote, to name a few. I know nobody outside the video/tech industry who is willing to give all that up. In fact, I know very few people even among the geek sector (I include myself here) interested in dropping premium TV service. I’m not surprised to see the numbers back that up.