Last issue we weren’t so serious.
This issue…well, serious is in the eye of the beholder.
But, unlike normally, I am being serious. This isn’t the same media landscape in which cable grew up…while cable TV helped shape this new world, the changes happening are accelerating. It is a multi-platform world now. But here’s what I think will happen in this newly hypercompetitive world this year:
The cable industry has weathered the onslaught from the sky and returned to adding subscribers instead of losing them…but how will cable do in this new — with telco entries into the market — near-zero-sum game?
Pretty good, I think.
Adding subscribers is even going to accelerate a bit this year as cable companies will add subscribers at a pace slightly ahead of the growth of TVHHs.
The old Adelphia systems will be upgraded and both Comcast and Time Warner Cable (newly public, too) will make them fully VoIP-ready by the end of the year…making EOY ’08 the chance to report big numbers for both.
The last big market without a truly dominant player will consolidate under Time Warner as it acquires the Los Angeles area systems of Charter. Meanwhile, two cost factors will continue to dominate news and panels: retransmission consent and sports rights. The shameful antics of Sinclair Broadcasting will continue, and embolden other broadcasters.
Satellite will grow just a little, a bitty bit more slowly than historical paces as DirecTV changes hands and then engages in serious discussions of "shared resources" (most likely high-definition capacities, some sort of shared broadband play and a migration to a shared next-generation video platform) with new neighbor EchoStar. All in the name of leverage and scalability.
Meanwhile, WildBlue will go on a satellite broadband subscriber tear this summer with special packages tied to one of the satellite video purveyors.
There are really four telco initiatives playing an offense-based on defense against cable.
Verizon’s FiOS is FTTH and really a next-generation cable system. It will have some successes…successes that almost exactly will mirror cable’s VoIP penetration.
AT&T’s U-verse is an IPTV attempt at scalability and is sort of an Internet protocol version of a next-generation cable system (something the engineers at Comcast are developing as well in a slightly different manner). It will be a serious disappointment…especially to analysts and Wall Street.
AT&T’s HomeZone — DSL plus Dish — will do better than U-verse…but AT&T faces real problems in defining just what it is trying to offer to whom. And judging from their advertising that promises everything yesterday, this will disappoint as well.
The NRTC plus SES Americom is attempting to bring DSL plus IPTV to America’s smaller markets. This attempt will rise and fall depending upon the individual independent telco.