NPD Backpedals: Says Report on Premium TV Decline Shouldn’t Have Mentioned Showtime, HBO

The market research firm says it should not have implied the cable channels saw subscriber defections

NPD Group is backing away from a recent study that claimed the rise of subscription video on demand services such as Netflix may be leading to a decline in premium cable subscriptions and says that its findings may have been misstated.

After HBO, Starz and Showtime all hit back at its conclusions this week, arguing that were experiencing customer growth, not defect, the market research firm was forced to clarify its data.

In a statement, NPD said it “…should not have called out declines in subscribers for specific premium TV channels, HBO and Showtime.”

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The company surveyed some 7,500 customers and said its conclusions that premium cable subscriptions dropped six percent over the last two years, were aggregate results for all premium TV channels. It maintained that its study does indicate that the overall number of subscribers to those types of channels did fall, based on a representative sample of the U.S. population.  Yet that comes with a caveat.

“Upon further examination of the results, there is data supporting the conclusion that individual subscribers are either subscribing to more channels, or adding channels over time,” NPD said in a statement. “In that case, faithful premium channel subscribers are becoming more so – which would be consistent with the subscription increases being reported by individual channels.”

Also read: Cable Backlash: NPD Yanks Negative Report Amid HBO, Showtime, Starz Furor

After Showtime, HBO and Starz all produced data from SNL Kagan demonstrating that they had seen a rise in customers, NPD pulled the data from its website.

A spokesman for NPD said a summary of its findings about premium cable subscriptions will likely be reposted, but acknowledged that it will remove brand names and should not have implied that subscribers to HBO and Showtime decreased.