CableCard Deployments Eclipse 40 Million Mark

The nine largest incumbent U.S. cable operators deployed just 4,000 more standalone CableCards for use in TiVo DVRs and other retail devices in the first quarter of the year than they did by the end of 2012, according to the latest CableCard report from the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

According to the report issued Tuesday, those nine cable operators have deployed a grand total of 604,000 CableCARDs for use in retail devices, versus 600,000 at the end of 2012.  The five biggest U.S. cable operators – Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Cablevision  Systems and Charter Communications – have deployed 572,000 CableCards for use in retail devices, up just 3,000 from the 569,000 that were deployed by Dec. 31, 2012.

In comparison, those nine top U.S. MSO incumbents have deployed more than 40 million operator-supplied set-top boxes with CableCard modules since the FCC set-top security integration ban went into effect on July 1, 2007 as part of a plan to spark a retail market for cable-ready digital TVs and set-tops. That’s 1 million more than the 39 million reported by the NCTA three months ago.

One MSO that’s now positioned to deploy fewer CableCards down the road is Charter, which secured an FCC waiver earlier this month that will allow the MSO to deploy dual-security boxes that don’t rely on CableCards but will instead use a new downloadable security system alongside an embedded version of Charter’s legacy conditional access system. Cablevision Systems received a similar waiver in 2009.

For those keeping score, Charter has deployed 35,168 CableCards, and had 19,677 of the security modules in inventory as of March 31, 2013. Charter leases the modules for $2 per month and charges $35 for a professional CableCard install.

Meanwhile, groups such as the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) continue to urge the FCC to pursue a successor to the CableCard that would apply to all multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD), and not just cable operators.