New data shows most aren’t planning to cut the cord, but it also shows 7 million homes are at risk. Some operators, like Dish, are fighting to keep their core customers. Others are happy to let them switch to the virtual MVPD service.
Cord keepers remain in the majority
Most people plan to keep their pay TV service in the US, according to new research from GfK MRI. The company says that 71% had traditional pay TV and planned to stay that way for at least the next six months. In 2015, the company found 77% had no plans to cut-the-cord. Not surprisingly, the 18-to-34-year-olds are least loyal, with 58% saying they planned to keep their pay TV service. Conversely, 80% of those 50+ planned to keep pay TV.
Don’t celebrate that number too much. Here’s why. Penetration of traditional pay TV in the US is 77% (about 92.5 million homes.) GfK is suggesting that 6% of pay TV homes do not plan to keep the service for longer than six months. In other words, 7 million homes could cut-the-cord in the next six months. In 2017, traditional TV providers lost 3.7 million subscribers.
vMPVDs picking up the slack
New research from Strategy Analytics shows that many of those cord-cutters are shifting the pay TV service online. The company says the number of vMVPD subscribers has increased 119% between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018. The biggest gainer was Hulu Live, increasing 480% to reach just below 1 million subscribers. YouTube TV also did well, growing 370% to 410,000.
Sling TV remains the top service with 2.3 million subscribers, and DirecTV Now is close behind with 1.8 million.
The companies continue to beef up channel availability. Just in time for the college football season, Sony PlayStation Vue has added ESPN College Extra to its Core, Elite, and Ultra package subscribers. The package of eight channels includes live football, baseball, and basketball games.
Dish looks to lock in its base
Older Americans are by far the biggest consumers of traditional television. Those 65+ watch 51 hours and 45 minutes of live and time-shifted television each week. 18 to 34-year-olds watch just 16 hours.
Dish Network aims to keep its older customers happy. The company has integrated its voice remote technology with the AnyTV Companion product from Independa, a senior care service provider. The integration will allow voice control of the TV and Independa care services.
A customer with the AnyTV Companion from Independa must also have Dish’s Wally receiver installed. Customers can use their voice to perform standard television functions, including changing channels, setting up and watch recordings, and setting reminders. They can also use their voice and the TV to schedule appointments, receive medication reminders, engage with others via video chat and messaging, and stay up-to-date on community information.