Telecommunication Research Company MoffettNathanson predicts that the number of households subscribing to the traditional multi-channel service (cable or satellite) will fall from about 91 million to about 87.5 million in 2018. That is a loss of about 3.8 percent. By the end of 2019, the company estimates that this figure will be around 84.3 million – a 3.6 percent drop. In other words, almost the same.
There is no doubt that the bottom line is falling out of business with satellite television. AT & T reported on DirecTV's failed losses Wednesday, with 403,000 subscribers who canceled the traditional satellite service and another 267,000 users who deal with DirecTV now, by streaming the company that mimics a paid television package. (Fast reminder that in 2015, AT & T paid $ 50 billion for DirecTV – a means that now bleeds customers in all possible ways.) This procurement is getting worse.)
Dish numbers will also not be nice. More than 360,000 satellite TV subscribers flew in the third quarter, and its service for Sling TV has added only 26,000 subscribers. Regarding DirecTV's numbers, it would be a shock if Dish did not announce another major loss in the fourth quarter.
But customers do not leave the cable television at the same rate. See Comcast and Charter – the two largest US cable operators. In the third trimester, the Charter has lost 66,000 users – less than 104,000 lost in the third quarter of 2017. Comcast has lost 29,000 residential video subscribers in the fourth quarter, which is again less than 33,000 lost in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Total video losses for both companies increased by 2018 compared to 2017. – no wonder. No one is disputing that the beam nicks. Obviously Netflix, Amazon, YouTube and other streaming services are taking part. But is there anything special about this 2019 that will cause losers on the cliff as Cook suggests?
Big new streaming options are unlikely to be fully rooted up by 2020. As we announced for the first time in October, Apple is preparing to offer original content to its customers free of charge as part of the service to be launched later this year. AT & T's Warner Media announced that streaming services will come this year. Disney should introduce its streaming service, Disney +, by the end of 2019. NBC Universal is working on a streaming service that will hit in the first quarter of 2020.
The price of OTT services that directly competes with cable packs is growing, making them less appealing to the three-play packages available at Comcast and Charter where video subscriptions are subsidized by purchasing broadband internet. Hulu has only raised the price of its TV service for five dollars a month. DirecTV now has subscriber losses are the result of AT & T finishing promotional prices. Cable companies continue to check for more personalized packages and better mobile applications to keep their subscribers home.
Another potential catalyst for true acceleration in cable harness removal would be that the 5G mobile broadband approach might be sufficient as an alternative to the broadband cable. But most experts, including Craig Moffetta at MoffettNathanson, do not expect 5G of most cable Internet competitors in 2019 (or even years later).