October 27, 2019
Charter Spectrum joined other pay-TV distributors reporting ongoing subscriber losses of traditional linear video entertainment in the home.
The company Oct. 25 said it lost 77,000 video subs in the third quarter, ended Sept. 30. That compared with a loss of 66,000 subs in the previous-year period.
The service has jettisoned 415,000 video subs in the past fiscal year, ending the period with 15.7 million.
Charter did add 351,000 broadband subscribers, underscoring ongoing consumer migration towards over-the-top video services such as Netflix and online TV. It added 266,000 high-speed Internet subs during the previous-year period.
The service ended the period with 24.5 million broadband subs, up from 23.3 million subs a year ago.
With the onslaught of high-profile SVOD services from Disney and Apple, in addition to WarnerMedia early next year, CEO Tom Rutledge was asked about the growing industry concern regarding the sharing of user passwords among non-subscribers.
Without naming offending OTT services, Rutledge alluded to third-party streaming services affording simultaneous access to five separate users with no location-based security.
“I feel like I’m beating my head against the wall talking about privacy or piracy, password sharing and pricing, but they’re all inter-related issues,” Rutledge said on the fiscal call.
He criticized content creators entering the distribution market seemingly indifferent to where their programming is going.
Indeed, Netflix, which has heretofore turned a blind eye toward password sharing, has begun looking into the practice.
“It has not been part of their DNA [worrying about it],” Rutledge said. “Most households in the United States have two or less people in them. And as a result of that, there are more streams available [for free] than there are households.”
The executive contends that until there is increased scrutiny on video access in and out of the home on a single account, “it’s just too easy to get the product without paying for it.”
“When we look at data consumption, we can see that video consumption isn’t going down even when people disconnect their paid video,” Rutledge said. “And as a result of that, it makes the [subscription] price value relationship really difficult when it’s free.”
Separately, Rutledge said Spectrum was considering partnering with Comcast’s Flex SVOD service for broadband-only subscribers.
Charter several years ago bowed Spectrum TV Plus, a $12.99 monthly online TV service for its broadband-only subs. The service included a free Roku player.
In 2018, the service was changed to $14.99 Spectrum TV Plus. Last year Charter unveiled “TV Essentials,” a $15 monthly “skinny bundle” option for pay-TV subs.
“We have a significant number of app based relationships that we’ve developed on multiple devices, and that strategy is working for us,” Rutledge said. “And putting inexpensive devices out with your service makes some sense to us.”