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Summary:

HBO and Showtime didn’t like a recent media release by the NPD Group that suggested their subscriber numbers are down. The research company took another look at its data – and agreed.

HBO True Blood
photo: HBO

The NPD Group retracted a recent media release about subscriber trends for premium pay TV networks Wednesday. In its original release, which Gigaom covered, NPD had said that networks like HBO and Showtime have seen a six percent subscriber decline over the last two years. The networks protested, causing NPD to take another look at the data and determine it wasn’t quite as clear-cut.

From a statement sent out Wednesday:

“The data used for the press release pertains to aggregate results for all premium TV channels and does indicate that the overall number of subscribers has declined, based on a representative sample of the U.S. population.  However, upon further examination of the results, there is data supporting the conclusion that individual subscribers are either subscribing to more channels, or adding channels over time.  In that case, faithful premium channel subscribers are becoming more so – which would be consistent with the subscription increases being reported by individual channels.”

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  1. It’s the old slight of hand where channels measure subscriptions not subscribers. I would guess that actual subscriber counts are decline ng, and that a smaller base is accounting for the subscriptions.

  2. Hm, that’s pretty interesting. Less people are subscribing to premium channels, but those who do are subscribing to more channels. That seems to place an upper limit on total subscriptions. I’d expect that upper limit to stop their growth soon, especially the larger channels.

    In other words, people looking for more content outside of their regular cable package are looking at Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu Plus. Those who already subscribe to premium channels are adding more of those (possibly in addition to Netflix etc.). That doesn’t sound like good news in the long run for premium cable channels.

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