Cable Trade Groups Drop ‘Cable’ Name

In an over-the-top video era driven by Netflix & Co., pay-TV can seem dated, while cable is downright old-school.

That prompted the American Cable Association to become the latest trade group move away from its legacy medium in favor of embracing rapidly-changing technology with the far-less constricting “communications” moniker.

“It’s all about the communications and connections our members provide,” Matthew Polka, CEO of the newly named American Communications Association, said in a statement.

Notably, ACA’s 700 members largely deliver cable TV to about 8 million subscribers nationwide. But with changing consumer habits toward home entertainment, many of the providers also offer high-speed Internet to remain competitive.

“Even though our industry and technology are changing so rapidly fueled by our members’ broadband deployments, what’s most important for our members and their customers is the ability to communicate freely and connect in their homes and businesses in countless new ways,” Polka said. “With this name change, we’re recognizing that communication is the priority, not the medium.”

ACA’s name change comes three years after the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) renamed itself the NCTA — The Internet & Television Association. “Just as our industry is witnessing an exciting transformation driven by technology and connectivity, NCTA’s brand must reflect the vibrancy and diversity of our members,” CEO Michael Powell said at the time.

While both trade group continue to lobby hard for cable distributors, they are loath to admit as much publicly. In feed, the NCTA’s annual “The Cable Show” was rebranded to “INTX: The Internet & Television Expo.”

Powell said the group’s mission to drive the industry forward remains unchanged.

“But, we’re no longer simply a provider of one-way video programming,” he said.

 

Season Four of ‘Better Call Saul’ Coming to Disc May 7 From Sony

Season four of “Better Call Saul” will land on Blu-ray and DVD May 7 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

In the critically acclaimed show’s fourth season, the death of Jimmy McGill’s brother catalyzes his transformation into the bigger-than-life legal legend Saul Goodman.  Now, Jimmy steps into the criminal world, putting his future as a lawyer — and his relationship with Kim Wexler — in deep jeopardy.

Bob Odenkirk (TV’s “Breaking Bad”) stars as McGill, Jonathan Banks (TV’s “Breaking Bad”) as Mike Ehrmantraut, Rhea Seehorn (TV’s “Franklin & Bash”) as Wexler, Patrick Fabian (The Last Exorcism) as Howard Hamlin, Michael Mando (TV’s “Orphan Black”) as Nacho Varga, and Giancarlo Esposito (TV’s “Breaking Bad”) as Gus Fring.

The disc sets contain all 10 episodes and includes cast and crew audio commentaries on every episode, a gag reel, and the featurette “Slippin’ Kimmy,” which explores the complex character Kim Wexler, whose personal and professional triumphs are threatened by the temptation to cut corners. Also included are ten Madrigal Security Training Videos with Mike Ehrmantraut and the short film “No Picnic” featuring fan-favorite characters The Kettlemans. Blu-ray exclusive content includes seven deleted scenes, three storyboard scene comparisons, a directorial walk-through, and two featurettes: “Flashing Forward, Looking Back,” which highlights the show’s use of non-linear storytelling to explore the many layers of Jimmy’s transformation, and “Constructing the Superlab,” which takes an in-depth look at the process of building Gus Fring’s Superlab both on and off-screen.

Fourth Season of ‘Ballers’ Due on Digital from HBO Nov. 5

Ballers: The Complete Fourth Season, featuring Dwayne Johnson, will be available for digital download Nov. 5 from HBO Home Entertainment.

In the fourth season of the series exploring the glamorous and often cutthroat world of pro football, Spencer (Johnson) and Joe Krutel (Rob Corddry) expand their empire in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Ricky (John David Washington) eyes a comeback.

Guest stars include Russell Brand, Tony Hawk, Joy Bryant and Ernie Hudson.

Third Season of HBO’s ‘Insecure’ Available on Digital Oct. 29

The latest season of HBO’s Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated comedy series “Insecure” will be available for digital download Oct. 29.

Insecure: The Complete Third Season follows creator, writer and star Issa Rae as Issa, and her best friend Molly (Yvonne Orji) as they tackle work woes, relationship escapades and awkward moments. In the third season, Issa attempts to navigate complicated relationships while on the work front she begins to question her role at the nonprofit We Got Y’all. Meanwhile, Molly (Yvonne Orji) sets boundaries in order to concentrate on her dream job at a black-owned law firm, which she risks sabotaging with her insecurities and hang-ups.

Jay Ellis (Lawrence), Y’lan Noel (Daniel), Natasha Rothwell (Kelli), Amanda Seales (Tiffany) and Lisa Joyce (Frieda) also return.

Comcast Shareholders Nix Lobbying Transparency

Comcast shareholders June 11 voted against a proposal that would have called for greater disclosure of funding spent by the media company on industry lobbying.

Comcast spent more than $29 million in 2016 and 2017 on federal lobbying activities — fourth highest among U.S. companies, according to shareholder Kate Monahan. Speaking at Comcast’s annual shareholder meeting, Monahan claimed the company fails to reveal how much is spent lobbying at the state and local level.

She called on shareholders to approve her proposal requesting the board disclose all funds spent on lobbying. Monahan also called on Comcast to exit the American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit she claimed works against clean energy adoption.

“Investors have no idea how much the company is spending overall and yet the company could easily and inexpensively disclose this information,” Monahan said.

Shareholders, not surprisingly, rejected the proposal, according to preliminary vote tallies.

CEO Brian Roberts, after reiterating company highlights in fiscal year, reminded shareholders that anyone fortunate to buy a lot Comcast stock 46 years ago would be very rich today.

“If you had bought 1,000 shares of our stock with my dad at $7 a share in 1972, you would now have $10 million versus nearly $700,000 if you’ve invested in the S&P 500,” Roberts said.

HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley: Season 5’ Available for Digital Download June 11

Silicon Valley: Season 5, will be available for digital download June 11 from HBO Home Entertainment.

The latest release in the Emmy Award-winning series includes eight, 30-minute episodes and explores new dynamics for the core cast. Pied Piper on an upswing as the platform’s new peer-to-peer internet platform is garnering buzz and looking poised to make a splash. However, leadership challenges, new faces in a new office, and the looming rivalry with Hooli CEO Gavin Belson threaten to shake Richard Hendricks’ confidence.

In addition to Emmy-nominee Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendricks (Joshy,Godzilla King of Monsters), the cast includes Zach Woods as Jared (“The Office,” The Post), Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh (The Big Sick), Martin Starr as Gilfoyle (“Freaks and Geeks,” “Party Down”), Josh Brener as ‘Big Head’(“Maron,” “Highly Gifted”), Amanda Crew as Monica Hall (Table 19, American Murderer), Matt Ross as Gavin Belson (“Big Love,” “American Horror Story”), Jimmy O. Yang as Jian Yang (upcoming Crazy Rich Asians) and Suzanne Cryer as Laurie Bream (The Fosters).

Research: U.S. Pay-TV Affordability Has Dropped Since 2000

Consumers who complain about their cable bill may have good reason.

Multichannel video affordability in the United States has plummeted since the turn of the millennium, squeezing the penetration rate, particularly among the more economically vulnerable households, according to new data from Kagan, S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Since 2000, there has been a 74% increase in the inflation-adjusted pay-TV bill while incomes have stagnated, according to the research.

The estimated nominal average monthly multichannel revenue per subscriber across the cable, DBS and telco platforms rose at a 5.5% CAGR between 2000 and 2017. Kagan calculated U.S. multichannel purchasing power based on 2017 inflation-adjusted annual multichannel average revenue per user, or ARPU, and average income figures. The affordability calculation dropped from a 10 in 2000 to a 6 in 2017.

Multichannel offerings have evolved a great deal since 2000, including a greater number of networks and advanced services such as video on demand, DVR services and improved user interfaces, with the vast majority of the packages delivered to subscribers digitally and in HD, but consumers’ ability to pay the price for that improvement didn’t grow much.

“The eroding legacy multichannel affordability partly explains the popularity of over-the-top services such as Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video,” according to Kagan.

Research: OTT Sub Households to Far Outstrip TV Sub Households in 2020

U.S. OTT subscriber households will far surpass TV subscriber households in 2020, according to new data from Convergence Research.

In five years at the current run-rate Netflix will have in the United States as many subscribers as all the the traditional TV access providers combined, according the Convergence’s Brahm Eiley. Amazon Prime at the current run rate will surpass the traditional U.S. TV access providers in terms of subscribers in three years.

However, the average revenue per unit (ARPU) for U.S. TV subscribers in 2020 will still be four times U.S. OTT subscriber households’ ARPU, down from 6 times in 2017.

Convergence has just released its annual 2018 Couch Potato Reports, “The Battle for the American Couch Potato: OTT, TV, Online” and “The Battle for the American Couch Potato: Bundling, TV, Internet, Telephone, Wireless.”

Convergence estimates that U.S. OTT access revenue (based on 55 OTT providers led by Netflix) grew 41% to $11.9 billion in 2017, forecasts $16.6 billion for 2018 and $27.6 billion for 2020.

The firm estimates 2017 U.S. cable, satellite and telco TV access (not including OTT) revenue grew 1% to $107.6 billion ($94.30 per month ARPU) in 2017, forecasts $107.4 billion ($97.90 per month ARPU) for 2018, and $106.9 billion for 2020.

In 2017, the United States saw a decline of 3.66 million TV subscribers and in 2016 a decline of 2.2 million. Convergence forecasts a decline of 3.72 million TV subs for 2018.

The firm reports that 2010 saw the start of the rise in cord cutter/never households, and as of the end of 2017 estimates 32.13 million U.S. households (or 26.1% of households) did not have a traditional TV subscription with a cable, satellite or telco TV access provider, up from 27.56 million (22.6% of households) at the end of 2016. Convergence forecasts 36.76 million (29.6% of households) will be cord cutter/never households by the end of 2018.

Meanwhile, 2017 saw U.S. residential broadband subs surpass U.S. TV subs, growing to 96.95 million. Convergence estimates 2.33 million U.S. residential broadband subs were added in 2017 (2.66 million in 2016) and revenue grew 7% to $56.8 million; the firm forecasts 2.57 million additions and 6% growth to $60.5 billion for 2018.

“The gloves are off,” commentary in the report reads. “The TV-movie Industry is being reconstructed from the inside and by the outside, as programmers now directly compete against their traditional TV access and independent OTT buyers that rival them in terms of content spend. Amazon, Apple, DAZN, Facebook, Google and Netflix all have the money muscle to finance their own productions or outbid on programming including major sporting franchises.”

Because the OTT services are acting more like studios and vying for top content, traditional content owners may fight back, the commentary reads.

“We expect especially for the U.S. market going forward fewer content deals between programmers and independent OTT providers: 2017 saw Disney choose not to renew with Netflix and embrace OTT, HBO not renew with Amazon in the U.S., Hulu (which is spending more on content on a per U.S. subscriber basis than Amazon or Netflix) continue to bolster its offerings, compete more directly against TV access providers, and A+E, AMC, Discovery, Scripps, and Viacom back supply Philo,” the firm commented. “The traditional TV ecosystem does not show decline ‘yet’ except for TV subscribers. TV access players continue to raise prices (ARPU is growing but we forecast TV access revenue decline going forward), and programmers have kept up increases in programming fees and advertising rates, but this architecture cannot last in the long run.”

U.S. Pay-TV Revenue to Drop $27B by 2023

Domestic pay-TV revenue is projected to decline $26 billion (26%) to $75 billion from a peak of $101.7 billion in 2015, according to new data from Digital TV Research.

Cable TV revenue will fall to $36.7 billion from a peak of $54.1 billion in 2010 at $54.1 billion. Cable will lose nearly 12 million subscribers, although most of the losses have already taken place.

“Satellite TV and [IPTV/telecom] are also losing subs and revenue,” Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said in a statement. “Much of this is due to the operators shifting their subscribers to online platforms. However, growth from virtual MVPDs is not expected to make up completely for the subscriber and revenue shortfalls from traditional pay TV.”

The report suggests telecom sub losses are mainly due to AT&T encouraging U-Verse subs to convert to DirecTV. This is the reverse of what has happened in most other countries. Telecom revenue spiked in 2015 at $9.6 billion and will fall to $4.7 billion in 2023. The number of telecom subs topped 12 million in 2014, declining to 6.2 million in 2023.

Satellite TV revenue will decline (16%) from $39.7 billion in 2017 to $33.6 billion in 2023. Satellite TV subs will drop by 4 million from the end of 2017 to 2023 – down 3 million in 2017 alone. Dish is pushing its Sling TV platform, with DirecTV Now also making an impact.

The number of domestic traditional pay TV subs will fall from 100.3 million in 2012 to 80.3 million in 2023. Pay TV penetration will fall from 87.6% of TV households in apex year 2013 to 66.7% in 2023.

Although Canada is losing pay TV subs, its problems are not as severe as the United States. Pay TV penetration reached a highpoint in 2013 at 85.1%. The level will fall to 74.8% by 2023. However, the number of pay TV subs will be 11.2 million by 2023 – about the same as 2017. Pay TV revenue will fall from a peak of $6.8 billion in 2015 to $6 billion by 2023.