Recent analysis of the Canadian pay-TV market found that a record 202,000 pay-TV subscribers cut the cord in the last year, up from 160,000 lost subscribers in the year before. The magnificently titled research company Boon Dog Professional Services (Boon Dog), released its pay-TV estimates for the Canadian market last week. It found growth in IPTV, which had been making up for lost cable and satellite subscribers, had slowed, potentially helping to drive up cord-cutting numbers.
However, this data masks a couple of important trends, according to Boon Dog analysts. Looking at the data, it seems cable operators are doing a better job of competing with telcos offering IPTV, while the telcos, probably seeing the ramp-up of OTT services, have slowed expansion of their IPTV services into new areas.
Boon Dog also added that the loss of 202,000 subscribers was about 2% of the total pay-TV subscriber base in Canada (at 11.3 million), so even this kind of record rise in cord-cutting should be seen in context.
According to the Financial Post, the Big Five Canadian TV providers -- BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE),
Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI), Telus Corp. (NYSE: TU; Toronto: T), Shaw Communications Inc. and Quebecor Inc. -- control about 82% of the market. The major cable and satellite providers all lost subscribers (Shaw 130,000; Rogers 76,000; and Quebecor 46,000) while the telcos gained (Telus 54,000; and Bell Canada 6,400) but this year's combined telco subscriber gains were half of the previous year's total.
Meanwhile Amazon Prime Video arrived in Canada at the end of 2016, while the Shomi joint-venture launched by Shaw and Rogers has been shelved, as it was not able to compete with Netflix. Skinny bundles, launched as another measure against OTT providers, also don't seem to have had a huge impact so far. And more OTT services are coming, with several US-based services now expected to expand into Canada.
The data reflects cord-cutting trends around the world, but as with other regions, the vast majority of households continue to subscribe to pay-TV services. Given the comparatively smaller set of OTT options in Canada, we would expect cord-cutting to accelerate in coming years before eventually stabilizing. Perhaps the greater concern here is the lack of success operators are having with skinny bundles, which have emerged as the the first line of defense for US operators.
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