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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.”

By Cecilia Kang  |  December 14, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Online Video , Verizon  
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"Americans spent an average of four hours and 49 minutes in front of the box, up about four minutes from the previous year."
Wow, that's not much at all, less than a minute a day!! *rolls eyes*

Anyway... Here's a suggestion: Turn the crap off and get a life.

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | December 14, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

How many of these new subscriptions are due to the fact that the DTV signal is so poor that people outside the immediate metropolitan areas who once watched broadcast TV, can no longer receive it? Although the FCC DTV transition initially required networks to replicate their analog viewing areas, the Bush Administration eliminated this requirement, assuring that people in fringe areas would be out of luck if they wanted to receive broadcast TV. You better make sure the Republicans don't get control of your health-care or else you'll have more serious problems than not being able to watch NBC.

Posted by: JimZ1 | December 14, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

I think that figure, like JimZ1 said, has ALOT to do with the switch to DTV. My mom, who lives in the DC metro area, does not get all the over the air stations she once did before teh change and she has brand new TVs. If she wants to get a station she has to move the dang antenna all over the place. There is NO such thing as channel surfing.

Posted by: Sec131 | December 15, 2009 2:28 AM | Report abuse

It would have been interesting to have noted the level of customer satisfaction ... or rather the lack of it... of these venues.

Regulation seems to have somehow managed to create a nightmare market where there is the appearance of competition, but the players are total scoundrels, and the 'choices' are lousy and over-priced.

Posted by: gitarre | December 15, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

A lot of people have nothing better to do except sit on the lounger and feed their faces in worship of the one-eyed monster.

Posted by: tuzoner | December 15, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

I wonder too if cable/satellite viewers keep the TV on longer in order to make sure they're "getting their money's worth."

I'm among the 15% who don't pay for signal. But I should add that I'm extraordinarily lucky to have lost no broadcast channels in the switch to DTV.

Posted by: mattintx | December 15, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

If this leviathan is allowed to grow, we are all in trouble as a nation.

Posted by: demtse | December 15, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

No wonder America is getting fatter and stupider by the nanosecond. This explains it all.

Posted by: jsdoodlerex | December 15, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I've always wondered why cable companies such as Comcast don't allow subscribers to have access to their accounts via broadband.

I should be able to log in to my Comcast account from anywhere in the nation and stream television from their service...via phone

Get on it Comcast! =D

Posted by: cbmuzik | December 15, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I've been without a television for several years now and don't miss it hardly at all.

Posted by: brewstercounty | December 16, 2009 5:36 AM | Report abuse

Americans just want to put their minds on hold. They've been remarkably successful.

Posted by: n7uno | December 16, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Television particularly, and Broadcast Media in general, are a pathetic monument to corporate greed and media non-competition. This situation redounds to the detriment of any truly meaningful and intelligent content.

Whatever happened to the concept of "public broadcast airways"? Even PBS television is brimful of corporate sponsorhip testimonials and the ever-present teaser of what you might get to see if you hang around with the pap long enough.

I'll take the stodgy BBC, anytime. My TV is mostly for viewing movies.

Posted by: Spectator | December 16, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

1983 TV with a converter box doesn't pick up much anymore. We get CBS, ABC, NBC with a lot of static, and FOX. All but ABC come with an extra channel. Can't get PBS at all anymore. Consequently, I might watch 1 hour TV/week, and probably less.

Posted by: featherstep1 | December 19, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

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