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Parks: 103M+ U.S. Households to Subscribe to Pay-TV Service by End of Year

13 Jan, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Will 2014 be the year cable came back?

Parks Associates said the year will end with more than 103 million domestic households subscribing to a pay-TV service, including cable, satellite and telecommunication. 2013 ended with about 100.3 million pay-TV households.

Indeed, the chairman of No. 1 cabler Comcast said the company gained an undisclosed number of new video subscribers in the fourth quarter — its first quarterly video sub gain in more than six years.

Among current pay-TV subscribers, two-thirds expressed interest in features they currently do not have, including remote access to DVR content. Parks said survey research indicated 31% of pay-TV subscribers want remote DVR access, while 27% are interested in TV Everywhere and 26% covet personalized programming recommendations.

"For these services to succeed, providers must increase awareness of their offerings while balancing cost concerns of their subscriber base,” John Barrett, director of consumer analytics for Parks, said in a statement.

Parks reports that few providers beyond Dish Network provide remote access to DVR content due to licensing restrictions, indicating there are opportunities for third-party multichannel video program distributors to gain market share with on-demand programming. Currently 47% of video consumed on a TV set now comes from non-linear sources, according to Parks.

"2014 CES announcements and industry trends follow the migration of home entertainment and home management to the Internet through [over-the-top] OTT content distribution, connected devices, and smart home services, Stuart Sikes, president of Parks, said in a statement.

Separately, Joseph Clayton, CEO of Dish, said in an interview the 25- to 35-year-old demo is increasingly not interested in paying $100 monthly for hundreds of channels. Instead, the demo wants no more than 20 to 30 stations accessible for $20 to $30 monthly on a portable media device such as a tablet, smartphone or laptop.

Clayton said retransmission disputes and license rights among content holders is the main impediment to faster rollout of lower-cost bundled pay-TV options.

“This is what's holding up Internet video,” Clayton told FierceCable.com. “The programmers have to be willing to offer their content at probably a lower price than they do today for linear TV, and they're concerned because that'll cannibalize their existing pay-TV business. That is the conundrum.”

Dish currently markets the Hopper DVR featuring online access to recorded programming with advertising striped from recorded network broadcasts.


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