America's love affair with television continues
America’s love affair with the TV continues. In the third quarter of 2009, cable, satellite and other video service providers added 442,000 subscribers, even amid a stubborn housing market slump. New video customers often come with home sales.
The statistic, according to a report released last week by research firm Media Biz, follows a recent study that showed television viewing was at an all-time-high for the 2008-09 TV season. According to Nielsen, Americans spent an average of four hours and 49 minutes per day in front of the box, up about four minutes from the previous year. An entire household averaged eight hours and 21 minutes a day watching television, up a few minutes as well.
The biggest winners in the third quarter included Dish Network, which added subscribers at a faster clip than competitor cable and telecom video service providers, according to Media Biz. Comcast, the nation’s largest cable and Internet service provider, saw its number remain basically stable as losses on its regular cable service were made up by about 500,000 new digital cable subscribers.
The studies present more data points for federal regulators as they weigh the merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. They will have to weigh how the merger will affect the market as well as the future of competition for video as it migrates online. Comcast also will have solid footprints in the future of video growth online with its stake in wireless broadband provider Clearwire, its 30 percent stake in broadcast video Web site Hulu, and its TV Everywhere plan to bring videos online as part of cable subscriptions, Media Biz said in its December report.
Indeed, other studies show that online video demand is also rising. Which is to say, the increase in cable video doesn't necessarily supplant online video demand.
“The answer to the question of 'how big' depends, of course, on Washington D.C. It’s essentially a given that regulators will not let a Comcast/NBC-U combination hold on to all the assets of both companies," according to Media Biz.
The report notes that Comcast dominates pay video markets in 20 of the nation’s 210 markets, including big markets like Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area and Boston. With the merger, Comcast would also own local affiliates in 10 markets.
“It’s not just that Comcast is the largest pay T.V. operator in the U.S. … Or that it is the de facto leader of new cable technologies . . . Or that it holds the lion’s share of the nation’s broadband and VoIP subscribers,” the report says. “It’s also that Comcast’s footprint spreads across nearly all the major markets in the U.S.”
December 14, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
Categories: Online Video , Verizon
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