Cable Industry Cuts Signal Theft in Half

The cable industry has chopped consumer theft by more than 50% in the past four years, according to a new survey commissioned by the NCTA. The study, conducted by Frank N. Magid Associates, found that the theft rate for expanded analog cable service fell to 4.65% (the percentage of theft per 100 homes passed) last year from 11.5% in 2000. Premium service theft plunged even further, falling from 9.5% to 2.15%. NCTA credited the improvements at least partly to the industry's shift to digital platforms. The survey found that such new technologies as digital cable, high-speed Internet access and voice over IP (VoIP) have theft rates of less than 1%, indicating that advanced services are more secure than analog services. NCTA also credited the industry's increased efforts to identify unauthorized users and convert them to paying customers. While theft rates are down, the problem remains. The study estimated that the industry still loses $4.76 billion in annual unrealized revenue because of theft, which amounts to more than 8% of its $57.6 billion in gross revenues last year. In 2000, NCTA estimated that the industry lost $6 billion in unrealized revenue.

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