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What Can the Latest Television Viewer Statistics Teach Us?

June 8th, 2017   ||    by Callie Wheeler

If the latest television viewer statistics from Dish Network are any indication, satellite providers might not fare too well this year. The industry has known about cord-cutters for years, and many providers are doing what they can to keep existing customers and convert new viewers.

So what’s really working? And what can other TV providers learn from the satellite cable industry’s successes and failures?

Viewers on the Move

According to Broadcasting & Cable, Dish Network lost nearly twice the predicted number of customers in this year’s first quarter. Their loss of 143,000 subscribers is equal to three times the amount lost in the same quarter last year. And taking the numbers from Charter, DirecTV, and Verizon into account as well, Bloomberg reports that cable and satellite TV providers lost nearly half a million subscribers—and stocks responded accordingly.

These changes aren’t abrupt, and industry professionals have been preparing for a change like this in television viewer statistics for years. TheStreet quotes a report from media analyst firm MoffettNathanson: “For the better part of 15 years, pundits have predicted that cord-cutting was the future. Well, the future has arrived.”

But with this future comes an opportunity to evolve with the market, which some providers are using to learn more about their viewers and improve their offerings.

The Oasis of Quality Content

The quarterly earnings for HBO—and parent company Time Warner—stood in contrast to those of some industry counterparts. HBO’s revenues increased 4 percent thanks to a rise in subscriptions and lower programming costs, Variety reports. And what received credit for the increase in paying customers? Original content was a big driver—with the series Big Little Lies averaging eight million viewers per week.

The lesson is increasingly clear: if broadcast and cable networks embrace quality original content, viewers will follow.

Accessibility and price are other key components to TV provider success. Customers want to watch content anywhere, at any time, without spending an arm and a leg. HBO is building a standalone streaming plan that’s drastically less expensive than traditional cable or satellite plans, using its original programming and streaming accessibility to draw new viewers.

Old Strengths and New Ideas

Another reason for Time Warner’s strong first quarter? The NCAA basketball finals, which aired on subsidiary Turner Sports and was the second most-watched college tournament in 23 years. But broadcast and cable have something over-the-top providers don’t have: live TV. Providers that focus on their strengths and incorporate new concepts learned from their more successful counterparts can stay the drop in customers.

While television viewer statistics continue to tell a compelling story, it’s important that traditional television providers realize they can have a say in that story’s end.

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