The outlook for the cable industry in the United States is bright, despite fears of cord-cutting, with continued demand for broadband expected to boost revenues. Basic video subscriptions are projected to drop by 1.5% a year to just over 45 million by 2026. However, industry revenue is forecast to grow from $130 billion in 2016 to over $140 billion in 2026.
The forecast is from SNL Kagan, now part of S&P Global Market Intelligence. It expects basic video subscriptions will decline at a compound annual rate of 1.5%, which is slightly less than the 1.7% it was previously predicting.
Meanwhile, high speed internet subscriptions are forecast to increase by more than 8 million over the ten-year period, to exceed the number of video subscriptions by 1.6 times.
The informitv Multiscreen Index shows that Comcast, the largest cable company in the United States, lost 61,000 video subscribers over the previous eight quarters. That sounds serious, but it represents 0.27% of its video subscriber base.
Charter is ranked now second among the cable companies in the United States by subscribers, having acquired customers from Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. If these cable areas were included, it would have lost 405,000 video subscribers over the same period, which is 2.3% of the combined base.
Between them, these two companies still have 39.33 million cable television customers, which is over a third of all television homes in the country.
If they lost television customers at a rate of 1.5% a year they would still have over 33 million in 2026.
In practice, they will be migrating customers from conventional cable television to broadband internet services, which are generally higher margin.
In the same eight months, Comcast added 2.72 million broadband internet customers, while on a pro-forma basis Charter added 2.81 million.
In other words, while these cable companies have lost television customers at a relatively low rate, they have been adding millions of broadband internet subscribers.
“Like many industries, cable isn’t immune to shifting preferences, but continued growth in broadband may propel revenue growth on both the residential and commercial end,” wrote Tony Lenoir and Ian Olgeirson of SNL Kagan. “Despite ongoing declines in video, the next 10 years look pretty good for this sector.”