Premium TV Losing Subscribers? HBO, Starz and Showtime Say Recent Survey Is Wrong

hbpIt didn’t seem like much of a surprise when a survey released earlier this week showed subscription video-on-demand services were on the rise and that premium TV subscriptions had declined. But the results were a surprise, at least to the three largest premium TV networks.

Officials with HBO, Showtime and Starz are calling the NPD Group survey inaccurate, saying they have each increased subscribers, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The NPD report found that Premium TV subscriptions declined by 6% over the past two years, while subscriptions to SVOD products, such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, increased by 4%.

HBO, Showtime and Starz officials say the study doesn’t reflect accurate subscriber counts. The NPD Group said the survey findings are based on the analysis of 450,000 consumer transactions and surveys of 7,500 people.

HBO officials say they added 1.9 million customers in 2012 and they expect a similar figure in 2013. At Starz, officials say the network added 1.2 million subscribers in the last 12 months, while Showtime says they added 1 million subscribers each year in six of the last seven years.

While officials aren’t happy with the NPD survey results, it wasn’t all bad news for them. The study found that premium TV still had the upper hand when it came to consumers. In August 2013, 32% of U.S. households had premium TV subscriptions, while 27% of households had a SVOD subscription.

The NPD Group said in a statement that the survey should not have called out declines in subscribers for specific premium TV channels.

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.

Showtime, HBO, Starz blast NPD study that says they lost subscribers [The Los Angeles Times]

Read Comments2

Edit Your Comment

  1. SuperSpeedBump says:

    According to this article from 2005, HBO was estimated to have 28 million subscribers: http://money.cnn.com/2005/08/26/news/fortune500/hbo_showtime/

    And according to this article from 2013, HBO is estimated to have 28.7 million subscribers:
    http://www.engadget.com/2013/10/21/netflix-q3-40-million-total/

    That would be a difference of about 7,000 over 8 years, which is nowhere close to 1.9 million in 1 year.

    Problem is, HBO doesn’t publicly release subscriber counts, so everything’s an estimate. This means 1 of 2 things. Either the companies who gather the estimates for Time-Warner Stockholders are pretty terrible at estimations, or HBO is totally lying to us.

    My guess is the latter.