The NCTA has filed their latest quarterly report on CableCARD Deployment and Support with the FCC. According to the report, Cablevision, Charter Communications, Comcast Corporation, Cox Communications, and Time Warner Cable have together deployed over 548,000 CableCARDs for use in retail CableCARD devices. Taking the top ten MSOs together raises that number slightly to 585,000. By way of comparison those same ten MSOs have deployed over 30,000,000, that’s thirty million, CableCARDs in MSO provided STBs.
That’s how much of a flop CableCARD has been at retail, less than 2% of the cards deployed are used in retail devices, like TiVo. I don’t blame the retail devices, but rather the pain involved in obtaining CableCARD (self-installs only mandated 8/8/2011) and the artificial limitations on retail CableCARD devices (no OnDemand, for example). tru2way is an even bigger flop, basically being stillborn. And this is why I don’t feel like we can rely on cable industry developed solutions, but rather we need something like a solid AllVid mandate backed by and FCC with some teeth to make sure it happens.
But I digress, let’s get back to this report and look at each of the five MSOs reporting.
Cablevision has 25,303 CableCARD subscribers with 36,692 cards deployed, an average of 1.45 per household. For this reporting period, which spans time before and after the self-install mandate, 43% or 1,395 were professional installs and 57% or 1,851 were self-installs. They charge $2/month per CableCARD. And if the customer elects for a professional installation there is a fee that averages $34.95, but the average number of truck rolls per install is just 1.0, so it seems like they get it right the first time.
Charter Communications had 31,425 CableCARDs in service as of August 31, 2011. They begin allowing self-installs on August 1, before that a professional installation was required. Interestingly Charter says their average number of truck rolls per install is 1.5, which indicates they’re customers probably have some more trouble getting it working. I’m a Charter customer and I have required multiple truck rolls in the past due to installers not having working cards on their truck, etc. Charter also charges and average of $2/month per CableCARD, and there is an average $35.00 fee for professional installs.
Comcast is the big one, with 367,064 CableCARDs in customer homes. In this reporting period they installed 38,403 CableCARDs, split almost exactly 50/50 between professional installs and self-installs. The average truck rolls per install is 1.03, so it seems like they get it right nearly every time. Comcast also has the best pricing, the first card is free and each additional card is $1.50/month. For professional installation, if it is part of a larger install it is an average of just $7.15. For a trip just to install a CableCARD they charge an average of $26.
Cox Communications has 50,791 CableCARDs in the field. Each card costs $1.99/month. For professional installations they charge an average of $24 and it takes an average of 1.1 truck rolls. So not as good as Cablevision and Comcast, but certainly a lot better than Charter.
Time Warner Cable has 74,047 CableCARDs in place with 53,503 customers. Until 8/8/2011 and the FCC mandate they required a professional installation, since they they’ve allowed self-installs. Which helps explain the 87%/13% split for the reporting period. The good news is they seem to get it right with an average of 1.03 truck rolls for professional installs, which cost an average of $26.64. CableCARDs run an average of $2.50/month.
So it seems like Charter is having the most trouble getting CableCARD working right the first time, and Cox is struggling a little, but Cablevision, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable are doing fairly well in that department.
There’s more interesting information in the full report, if you care to read it.