Here is a July 4 Weekend treat: a snapshot of the estimated distribution universe of a majority of the US cable channels that schedule unscripted programs.
- The data raises the question: Is there a wave of cord-cutting that is eroding the channels business model?
- See my Takeaways below.
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Cable Network Universe Estimates
A Selection, July 2014
The column headings are:
Channel / July 2013 Universe / July 2014 Universe / +/- ‘000 / +/- %
|FXX (FOX SOCCER)||51,393||73,255||21,862||42.5%|
|UP (Gospel Music)||61,401||66,359||4,958||8.1%|
|Al Jazeera America||48,161||53,104||4,943||10.3%|
|NAT GEO CHNL||84,520||85,032||512||0.6%|
|DISCOVERY EN ESPANOL||7,351||7,084||-267||-3.6%|
|Am. Heroes / MILITARY||62,109||60,502||-1,607||-2.6%|
|CNN / HLN||99,458||97,762||-1,696||-1.7%|
|DISCOVERY FIT & HEALTH||48,989||46,400||-2,589||-5.3%|
Source: National Nielsen People Meter
Comparing July 2013 vs. July 2014:
- Nielsen now projects total wired cable at 67,379,000 homes, down 1,694,000 in the past year (-2.5%).
- Other measurement services have estimated larger decreases in wired cable.
- Satellite dish services total 38,077,000, up 2,159,000 from a year ago (+6.0%).
- Total Cable/Dish services have 103,848,000 homes, up 483,000 (+0.5%).
- The average cable network lost homes in the past year, having to do with a combination of sample adjustments and wired cable declines.
Smithsonian Channel is a Winner
- The Smithsonian Channel with 30,811,000 is added to the Nielsen service for the 1st time.
- Smithsonian is a bastion of quality, curated, entertaining nonfiction docs and specials.
- Here is coverage by Michael Rose in Huffpo of A SHOT TO SAVE THE WORLD, a bio doc about Jonas Salk and the race to develop a polio vaccine that features Bill Gates, and that I co-EP’d for Smithsonian and Steeltown Entertainment.
Terrestrial / PBS
- The total US TV Universe HH Estimate is 115.8 million homes.
- PBS is a terrestrial network and reaches approximately this footprint.
MY TAKEAWAYS Cord-cutting
- I was expecting cord-cutting to make a dent in the Cab/Sat distribution universe.
- But I have come to better appreciate the leverage that channels enjoy with operators.
- The operators are determined to lower costs as their programming margins shrink, but their overall profitability is sustained by DSL/telephone services.
- The channels are increasingly concentrated in a handful of owners, e.g. Disney, Fox, VIACOM, COMCAST, and who offer the operators a take-it-or-leave it big package of networks.
- The operators can’t drop under-performing or duplicative ‘me-too’ channels without threatening their carriage of the ‘must have’ programming services from the major content owners.
- As ever, ‘Content is King!’
Easy Days are Over
- However, the era of rapid ‘organic growth’ for channels is over and done.
- Very few channels can expect to add cable systems with lots of new viewers.
- And because it is the the distribution universe that establishes the scale of the potential viewing audience, dramatic gains in ratings are not in the cards.
- Programmers are increasingly fighting out a vicious ground game to gain a yard or two from their competitors.
NEXT: Sunnyside of the Doc Takeaways
- This year, La Rochelle served as a beautiful location for a relaxed and valuable market /conference that was very good for new business.
- Sunnyside was recently under threat when Sheffield moved to its June slot; but director Yves Jeanneau and his team brought SSD charging back with a renewed purpose that is attracting new delegations.
- Read my Takeaways in my next post!