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1 million US pay TV losses unexplained

By PETER WHITE

Published: 18 January, 2013

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There is little doubt that Nielsen can count, but can it add up? It's latest report says that the US has lost 1.4 million pay TV customers this year. While other segments are up, cable is off by 2.7 million TV homes. About 1 million of these homes are what we would call "unexplained" - in other words some people have switched to free to air broadcasting, some to OTT, some to both, but about 1 million others have just cancelled their pay TV and taken up nothing else it seems. Now is that likely?

But the people who have kept their TV service are watching more TV, for longer and longer.

So what do you think those 1 million US homes are doing? Are they dead and no-one has noticed it, are they simply telling lies to Nielsen, watching TV at a friend's house or in a bar, or is there a consolidation of young people without jobs moving back in with their parent's and watching their subscription? We might understand that if this was in Spain, but not the US.

How many younger families might actually be watching TV Everywhere services from their parent's home, but watching it on a tablet, at their own home? That's only possible with some services, others make you watch it on the same broadband line as the home. But much of the increase of 78 minutes more TV a day was made up from catch up OTT, and viewing on smartphones and tablets.

So what Nielsen shows as 1 million cutting the cord and the others watching more TV, might just be 1 million watching more of someone else's TV. Didn't we used to call that piracy? Now we call it OTT.

Rethink TV will shortly be delivered via the RethinkResearch twitter feed, be sure you sign up to it @rethinkresearch

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