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As Cord-Cutting Grows, How Do We Get A Progressive Message Out?

The combination of two slow consecutive quarters could signal an accelerating exodus, Olgeirson said.
As Cord-Cutting Grows, How Do We Get A Progressive Message Out?
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This trend will have political ramifications once an entire generation opts out of network and cable news. Fox News and network TV gets it -- they've already opened Roku channels. I've been trying to get funding for a progressive Roku channel for a couple of years now (Roku because it's open source and thus inexpensive to build -- you're looking at maybe $250K to build the software and manage the operation for the first two years) but progressive organizations being the chronically-late adopters that they are, no one really gets it.

To put this into perspective, $250,000 is about what a major candidate spends on two weeks of ads.

So either donors don't get it, or they complain: "Look at all the money we poured into Air America! It was a total loss!" Really? You got Al Franken, a progressive senator, and an influential progressive cable anchor like Rachel Maddow out of it. I wouldn't call that a "total loss."

In the meantime, there are dozens of Tea Party and fundamentalist Christian channels on Roku to take up the conservative slack. (Yes, I also had a proposal for a progressive Christian channel in there.) Oh well, at least I tried:

Pay-TV providers had their worst three-month period ever between April and June 2015, losing more than 600,000 subscribers, analysts say.

Cord-cutting was the culprit that led U.S. cable, satellite and telecom pay-TV companies to their biggest collective quarterly decline of about 625,000, according to a report out Thursday from research firm SNL Kagan. As consumers dabble in the growing number of Net-delivered video options, including Sling TV, Sony PlayStation Vue and HBO Now, a growing number are leaving the traditional pay-TV service behind, says SNL Kagan analyst Ian Olgeirson.

"You certainly have an emerging slate of options for consumers outside of the multichannel space ... and there's the continued gravitational pull of Netflix and Hulu," he said.

Despite the losses, the number of pay-TV subscribing homes and businesses remains at 100.4 million, with 83% of homes still connected. But the combination of two slow consecutive quarters could signal an accelerating exodus, Olgeirson said.

Traditionally, the first quarter of the year — January to March — is fairly strong for the pay-TV segment and cancels out the traditionally weaker slow second quarter, he said. This year, pay-TV companies lost 26,000 subscribers in the first three months of 2015, compared to an increase of 267,000 in first-quarter 2014.

"In past years, (the two quarters) tended to balance each other. We didn't see that this year," Olgeirson said. "Certainly that portends to a bigger loss for the full year."

The findings echo those released recently by analysts at MoffettNathanson, who estimated that cable, satellite and telecom pay-TV providers lost about 566,000 subscribers from April-June 2015. Cable companies reduced their rate of lost subscribers, while satellite and telcom providers saw their rates worsen, the analysts say.

Taking in account the growth in new households, the number that are either cutting the cord or never subscribing to pay TV is nearly 2 million over the past year. "New households are being formed precisely by the Millennials that least likely subscribe to Pay TV," the analysts said in a note to investors.

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