HBO and Showtime Strike Back: Subscriptions Aren’t Actually Down

The networks refute a new study that claims premium cable subscriptions are dropping

  • Share
  • Read Later

Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) in the season finale of 'Homeland'

Pay-TV channels, Showtime, HBO and Starz are blasting a highly-touted study that said premium channels were losing subscribers to digital services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.

The NPD Group study claimed that subscriptions for premium cable channels like Showtime and HBO are falling and that Netflix subscriptions are on the rise. It said such channels had lost six percent of their subscribers in the last two years, while online services had gained four percent.

But Showtime issued a release Tuesday denying that premium TV subscriptions are down. The NPD study, Showtime said, “does not accurately reflect actual subscriber counts.” The channel said it has added one million subscriptions in six of the past seven years, according to Deadline. It also claimed that premium rivals like HBO, Cinemax and Starz have also increased subscriptions during that period.

Showtime said in the release:

According to SNL Kagan, from March 2012 through September 2013 – the timeframe the NPD Group allegedly measured — Showtime penetration grew from 21.1 percent to 22.8 percent; HBO penetration rose from 28.2 percent to 29.2 percent; Cinemax penetration climbed from 11.2 percent to 13.6 percent and Starz penetration jumped from 19.9 percent to 22 percent. While it is true that video services like Netflix have gained, so too have premium cable channels.

HBO made similar claims. “The research is simply incorrect. Both HBO and Cinemax services have shown significant domestic subscriber growth the past two years,” an HBO spokesman told the Los Angeles Times. In 2012, HBO said it added 1.9 million subscribers and it expects a similar figure for 2013. A Starz spokesman added that Starz has added 1.2 million viewers in the last year alone.

Both Showtime and HBO have recently had a number of critical and commercial hits. The season three finale for Showtime’s Homeland drew a series-high of 2.4 million viewers. HBO’s Game of Thrones season three finale pulled in a whopping 5.4 million viewers — and that doesn’t even include the people who streamed Game of Thrones via HBOGo later that week.

NPD had said its findings are based on its analysis of 450,000 consumer transactions, and surveys of 7,500 people. Spokespeople for NPD have not yet responded to requests for comment on the study.

[Deadline and Los Angeles Times]