Cable Subscribers Falling in Paragould and Conway

The city-owned cable services in Paragould and Conway both have seen the number of their cable subscribers dip between 2009 and the end of May 2012.
The number of cable subscribers for Paragould Light Water & Cable slipped 0.7 percent to 10,969, and Conway’s Corp.’s cable users declined 1.74 percent to 22,338 during that period.

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Conway Corp.’s CEO Richard Arnold said he doesn’t think the drop in subscribers is because a mass of people are turning to the Internet to watch their shows. He instead blamed the loss of customers on the increased competition from AT&T U-verse, which started offering service in the city around 2009.
Still, even with the lower number of subscribers, Conway’s cable revenue was $8.7 million in 2011, up 11.6 percent since 2009. Part of that increase was tied to a rate increase that went into effect in August 2010, Arnold said.
He said people still are using Conway’s cable package because its standard service is relatively cheap at $40.50 a month and the utility has its own local programming that includes sports.
“We try and give viewers an opportunity to learn what’s going on in Conway,” Arnold said.
He also said Conway Corp. is working on plans that will allow subscribers to watch their cable television shows on their mobile devices.
“But right now too many of our contracts are very limiting as to what you do,” Arnold said. “Many of the programmers are concerned about being able to track their ratings over these mobile devices.”
He said the programmers fear the ratings numbers won’t represent the number of actual viewers if people are watching shows on their mobile devices.
Bill Fisher, the general manager and CEO of Paragould Light Water & Cable, said the cable service has seen little change during the past couple of years.
The Paragould utility has nearly 11,000 customers and the city has a population of about 26,000, so nearly all its homes have cable, he said.
Fisher said some customers have tried the satellite television services but return to cable after the satellite TV company’s introductory low-price period is over.
He said people come back to the utility for cable because of the price, which can be as low as $14.30 a month for the basic package of 24 channels, and its service. Fisher said most customer issues are resolved within 24 hours.