More Young People Now Cutting Video Cord, As Well

It has long been established that young consumers are more likely than their older counterparts to forgo wireline voice telephone service in favor of wireless.  A newly-released report from Experian Marketing Services finds that a growing number of young people are becoming video cord cutters, as well.

According to the report, the number of video cord cutters—defined as those with a broadband connection but not a cable or satellite TV subscription—has grown by 44% (from 5.1 million to 7.6 million homes) since 2010. This represents 6.5% of all U.S. households.

Among those households which include anybody between the ages 18 and 34, the percentage of cord cutters grows to 12.4%. Even more dramatically, among those households with a Netflix or Hulu account, 18.1% do not have a cable or satellite TV subscription.

“The young millennials who are just getting started on their own may never pay for television,” said Experian Marketing Services senior analyst John Fetto. “Pay TV is definitely declining.”

Fetto believes that cable companies will need to find creative ways to make up for lost revenue, such as imposing data caps or implementing tiered pricing, whereby consumers who consume more data are charged more.

Most TV Viewing Is Still ‘Live’

According to a recently released poll, the vast majority of TV viewing by adults is done “live.” “Live” meaning via a cable/satellite subscription, or via broadcast TV, and not using the DVR, while actually watching the commercials. The poll included just over 15,000 people from about 20 countries worldwide.

Nearly 86% of those responding to the poll watch traditional, live TV; 27% report that they watch video online, via a computer; 16% stream Internet video to their TV; 16% use a DVR; and 11% watch video on a mobile device.

Not at all surprisingly, the numbers change based on age. Those aged 50-64 watch more live TV; they watch live TV 91% of the time. For those aged 35 to 49, the number drops to 88% and drops to 81% for those under 35.

Some other interesting statistics from the poll: among the 20 countries included in the poll, watching live TV is most popular in France and streaming Internet video content to a TV is most popular in Turkey. Watching TV on a mobile device is most popular in South Korea.

Interesting numbers, no doubt. Of course, if you’re like me, you may have asked, “why is live TV still so popular? Seriously, who would willingly watch a commercial these days? Heard of the DVR?” Unfortunately, the poll did not answer this question.  In the next few weeks, I think I’ll dig into the issue more, so stay tuned for that.

But, with all of the options out there for streaming online video, I’m hoping this poll is done again in a few years. It will be interesting to watch the trends evolve.

Community Engagement Is Key to New Revenue Streams

A remarkably common theme ran through many of the presentations and discussions held during the IP Possibilities Conference & Expo in Kansas City last week. Time and again, separate speakers in one way or another touched upon the need to do more than just build a robust broadband network. Carriers can also benefit by assuming the role of technology leaders, and actively engage the rest of their community to illustrate the benefits that high tech, accessed through the local network, can convey.

A keynote panel covering NTCA’s Smart Rural Community initiative explored specific examples, including smart agriculture, telemedicine and distance learning. It was also notable that other keynote topics at the conference, such as “Managing the IP Transition” and “Disruption as a New Way of Life,” among others, independently brought up similar concepts. Even a session devoted to current regulatory challenges came back to the idea that the networks deployed by rural carriers can be leveraged in new and imaginative ways most effectively if carriers take the lead in engaging the communities that they serve. This, in turn, leads to further revenues that the carrier can use to improve and expand its broadband network, creating a virtuous cycle that benefits the carrier and the surrounding area alike.

This concept goes beyond having an active sales culture (as opposed to simply being an order-taker), although that is certainly a necessary component. It is also about reaching out to local governments, chambers of commerce, agricultural concerns, and anchor institutions such as schools, medical facilities, and others to establish and maintain relationships over the long term. As communities’ technology needs continue to grow and evolve, local carriers are in the best position to not just fulfill these demands, but to anticipate and prepare for them.

By doing so, carriers can accomplish far more than just keeping customers from finding alternative providers. By taking the lead and being their communities’ center of technology, carriers become the “go-to” source for all things digital, while helping their community leverage the benefits their network can bring in terms of education, health care, economic development and quality of life.

Ag Broadband Summit Recap and Reflections

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, each American farmer produces enough food and fiber to feed 154 people in the United States and abroad. If that statistic isn’t enough to convince you of the relevance and importance of a strong, healthy agricultural economy, in 2011 agriculture and agriculture-related industries contributed $742.6 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product, a 4.8% share. While the United States may not be as ag-heavy of an economy as when our country was first were founded, the agriculture industry has taken full advantage of broadband-enabled technology to make international food production more efficient, sustainable and affordable.

On Monday, April 14, NTCA member and Smart Rural Community award-winner Blue Valley Tele-Communications, based in Home, Kansas, partnered with Kansas State University (KSU) and NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association to host an Agriculture Broadband Summit. The summit agenda included speakers from KSU’s Beef Cattle Institute, Kansas Fiber Network, Kansas Farm Bureau, and even Don Landoll, the Kansas-born founder and chairman of international equipment manufacturer Landoll Corporation. Speakers provided incredible insight based upon their respective industries—from the impressive technologies emerging in the ag world, to the dangers of security breaches now that an increasing amount of information is available via broadband networks. If you missed the event, be sure to check it out on YouTubeRead more

By Reading this Blog, You are Doing Something Important

It’s not every day that you can participate in a transformative experience simply scrolling through a screen. But, in case you were wondering whether reading my posts are time well spent, I can assure you that they are (without question, of course, the other New Edge authors are certainly worth a regular read). Best of all, I can share this revelation with you without the need for judicial intervention.

 The Invention of News: How the World Came to Know About Itself, by Andrew Pettegree:

In the Middle Ages, Mr. Pettegree tells us, news was the privilege of lords and popes. It travelled laboriously across ramshackle postal routes. Modest folk relied upon royal proclamations, church sermons, or the ballads of “news singers.” In an oral culture, where the “trust and reliability of a news report were closely attached to the credit of the bearer,” spoken news was preferred to “anonymous writing.” But by the 16th century, elites subscribed to services offering manuscript “new-books,” scribally copied and dearly priced.

Mr. Pettegree’s book brings us to the end of the 18th century, at which time, he argues, the French Revolution and the elimination of censorship enabled the birth of the modern newspaper. Read more

Pew Report: Senior Citizens’ Technology Use on the Rise

A newly-released Pew Research Center report finds that 59% of senior citizens report they go online, an increase of 6% over the past year.

According to the report, “Older Adults and Technology Use,” 77% of older Americans has a cell phone (up from 69% in April 2012). Forty-seven percent has a broadband connection in their home, up from 39% in 2012 but well below the national average of 70%. However, while the 59% of seniors reporting they go online represents significant year-over-year progress, it remains well below the 86% of all Americans who go online.

The report identifies the hurdles to adopting new technologies that face seniors, including physical challenges, skeptical attitudes and difficulties learning to use new technologies. But Pew finds that once seniors join the online world, digital technology often becomes an integral part of their daily lives. More than seven in 10 seniors who go online do so every day or almost every day, and an additional 11% go online three to five times a week.

The Pew report also finds that only 18% of seniors use a smartphone, versus 55% of the population as a whole. The gap is smaller for tablets or e-book readers: 27% of seniors own one of those devices, compared to 43% of all adults.

The report is based on a telephone survey of more than 6,000 adults age 18 and older conducted in the summer of 2013.

Video Buffering Times Down, But Not Enough For Consumers

Rural carriers that also provide video have long known that if voice service goes down for just a few moments, customers will usually make another attempt to get through before giving up.  In most cases, service is quickly restored with relatively few complaints.  But if there is so much as a slight imperfection in video quality, or worse, a service interruption of a few seconds or more, a flood of complaints come in, fast and furious.

A recent study shows that high consumer expectations apply to over-the-top (OTT) video as well.  Even though the performance of video streams has improved a bit, consumer demand for a good video experience has grown, according to the 2014 Viewer Experience Report from research firm Conviva.  The report indicates that the number of OTT video views that encountered buffering delays fell from 39.3% in 2012 to 26.9% in 2013.  However, the data also indicates that if a viewer encounters buffering, they will quickly give up. Read more

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