Cable Group: Consumers Saved $2 Billion in Electricity Costs Moving Away From Standalone DVR

Consumers saved nearly $2 billion in electricity costs in 2019 as a result of the voluntary set-top box energy efficiency agreement among pay-TV operators, according to NCTA — the Internet & Television Association trade group.

Working together with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), pay-TV operators created more energy-efficient devices, including moving away from traditional DVRs, which help lower monthly electricity bills for consumers and contributed to less CO2 emissions into the environment.

A new report by independent auditor D+R International found that under the seven years of this agreement, national set-top box energy consumption decreased by nearly half (46%), yielding cumulative savings of more than $7 billion in electricity costs and avoiding nearly 39 million metric tons of CO2 emissions.

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The energy saved during this period is equivalent to the electricity used by all homes in the state of California for more than seven months, and the ongoing annual reduction in electricity demand is nearly equivalent to the power generated by five typical 500 megawatt coal-run power plants.

“By going above and beyond their voluntary commitments, pay-TV providers nearly doubled the $1 billion annual savings projected when the industry established its successful partnership with NRDC and ACEEE in 2013,” Neal Goldberg, General Counsel of the NCTA, said in a statement.

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Doug Johnson, VP of technology policy with the Consumer Technology Association, said the video entertainment market has changed over the past decade as consumers increasingly watch video on connected devices beyond the TV and from Internet-delivered sources.

“The [collaboration] has enabled industry and energy efficiency advocates to stay ahead of these fast-paced changes and secure far more energy savings more quickly than could have resulted from traditional regulation,” Johnson said.

D+R’s report, which is based upon multiple levels of independent verification tests and audits, found that the average power usage of a new digital video recorder (DVR) has decreased by 50% since 2012 as a result of whole-home architectures and cloud-based content storage.

Consumers used more than 43 million customer-owned devices such as Smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, personal computers, and streaming devices such as Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast and Amazon Fire to access the signatories’ video services via apps in 2019, which reduces demand for pay-TV set-top boxes.

D+R compiled these findings by reviewing data on every 2019 new set-top box purchase by all of the major pay-TV providers serving 94 percent of the U.S. market, including AT&T/DirecTV, Comcast, Charter, Dish Network, Verizon, Altice, Cox Communications, and Frontier.

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.