Digital cable, satellite studies target churn

Feb 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Digital cable subscribers, compared with direct broadcast satellite subscribers, are less likely to own their own home and are more likely to be single. They are as a group younger and better educated than DBS subscribers. They also are more likely to be black or Hispanic and live in a center city area.
That snapshot of the typical subscriber in the burgeoning digital cable marketplace is from Digital Subscriber Profile and Broadband Subscriber Profile, the two most recent reports by Los Angeles- and Philadelphia-based Centris. Those reports, updated semi-annually, are based on an ongoing telephone survey of more than 24,500 households.
As industry consolidation continues, Centris also is tracking the movements of consumers from one platform to another. In the next “wave” of the continuing study, due out later this year, Centris will try to answer one of the most vexing questions now roiling the purveyors of both digital cable and direct satellite: Who is churning-and where are they going?
As recently as last week, Andrew Heller, president of domestic distribution for Turner Broadcasting System, remarked on digital cable’s high churn rates, saying the industry did not yet know where those churners were going.
According to Centris, 3.7 million households now have both cable and DBS; fully one-fifth of DBS households also have cable, while just 5.4 percent of cable households also have satellite dishes. That disparity, says Centris co-founder Jerilyn Kessel, is the likely result of satellite operators not having had, until recently, any must-carry obligation for local broadcast channels.
One result of the present wave of the continuing study is that digital cable pay-per-view buy rates are now the same as DBS PPV, and that both are nearly four times as high as analog cable pay-per-view buy rates.#