Bundled Programming Preferred to ' Pick and Pay'

| Filed under: National, Social Issues

One third subscribe to Netflix, one quarter download TV, one fifth will cut cable

TORONTO September 4th, 2014 In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1202 cable subscribers across Canada, one half prefer the current model of cable TV pricing, where channels are sold in 'bundles' (48%), while one third prefer a model similar to the CRTC's proposed 'Pick and Pay' system (33%). When it is explained that 'Pick and Pay' may mean the disappearance of some smaller Canadian channels, the proportion preferring bundled programming stays at half (47%) and the proportion approving 'Pick and Pay' decreases to one quarter (27%). Preference for 'Pick and Pay' (including Canadian channel losses) is common to older subscribers (34%), the wealthier ($80K to $100K - 33%), the best educated (post grad - 30%), Conservative Party supporters (33%), in the prairies (38%) and BC (31%), among Telus customers (35%), those who watch fewer than 5 channels regularly (31%) and those who pay between $150 and $200 a month in cable fees (38%).

Just one fifth approve of 'Pick and Pay' concept

Two thirds disapprove of 'Pick and Pay' when it is described to them (63%), and just one fifth approve (21%). One seventh have no opinion (16%). Approval of the 'Pick and Pay' model is common to the oldest (26%), the least wealthy (27%), the least educated (26%), mothers of kids (25%), in the prairies (32%) and BC (27%), among those who watch fewer than 5 channels regularly (29%) and those paying $150 to $200 a month for cable (37%).

Would watch 1 less channel with 'Pick and Pay'

On average, cable customers watch about 11 channels on a regular basis. Under a 'Pick and Pay' system, they would subscribe to, on average, about 10 channels, for a potential downsizing of, on average, 1 channel.

Would pay $9 for specialty channels on 'Pick and Pay'

On average, cable subscribers would pay $9 for each specialty channel (HBO and The Movie Network are presented as examples), which is less than the amount presented for basic channels ($10 per basic channel per month).

One third subscribe to Netflix; one quarter download TV

One third of cable TV subscribers also subscribe to Netflix (34%) and one quarter download TV programming from iTunes or other sources (27%). Subscribing to Netflix is common to the youngest (less than 45 - 48%), the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 47%), mothers of kids (46%), in the Atlantic provinces (56%), the prairies (54%), Alberta (40%) and BC (42%), customers of Bell (40%) and Telus (49%), those with premium packages (38%), those who regularly watch 20 channels or more (40%) and those who spend between $150 and $200 on cable (53%). Downloading from iTunes and other sources is common to the youngest (46%), males (32%), the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 33%), in the Atlantic provinces (41%), the prairies (40%), among those who watch less than 5 channels (40%) and those who pay $150 to $200 in fees (43%).

Two thirds watch only cable TV

Two thirds of cable subscribers watch mostly cable TV (66%) while one tenth mostly watch internet TV content (10%). One fifth do both regularly (18%). Online TV viewing is most common to the youngest (18%), males (13%), the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 16%), those with children (17%), in Atlantic Canada (17%) and the prairies (18%), those with basic cable (15%), who watch fewer than 5 channels (24%) and who pay less than $50 a month for cable.

One seventh plan to cut the cable

One seventh say they will cancel their cable subscriptions in the next year (15%) and this is common to Gen Y (35 to 44 - 19%), males (18%), the least wealthy (25%), the least educated (18%), those with children (23%), in Ontario (21%),  among Cogeco and Bell customers (20% each), those with basic cable (19%), who watch fewer than 5 channels (29%) and who pay $150 to $200 in cable fees (17%). The primary reason given for cancelling cable is a need to downsize (29%), followed by those who don't watch much TV or those who get most of their TV content from the internet (15% each).

One quarter with Bell, majority have premium package, drama, comedy series watched most often, average amount paid $85

Among the three quarters of Canadians who subscribe to cable TV (73%), one quarter are with Bell (25%), and this is followed by Rogers (21%), Shaw (18%), Videotron (12%) and Telus (10%). More than half have a premium cable package (57%), and the plurality say they watch drama and comedy series most often (29%), followed by documentaries and educational programming (14%), 24 hour news (13%) and sports and movies (11% each). On average, cable subscribers pay $85 for their subscriptions, and this is higher in Atlantic Canada ($97, on average) and Alberta ($98, on average) and among Shaw customers ($97, on average).

While it does not appear that doomsday predictions of mass cable cutting are accurate, nevertheless, a significant minority are getting their TV programming from sources other than cable, and this is bound to grow. The fact the current bundled model is preferred to the 'Pick and Pay' model is probably due to familiarity and inertia, more than anything else. It is instructive that those with the most interest in 'Pick and Pay' are those currently paying the most but watching the fewest channels," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at lbozinoff@forumresearch.com or at (416) 960-9603.