Cable theft is down by more than 50% in the past four years, according to a new study by the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.
The group cites the migration to digital platforms combined with industry efforts to crack down on thieves and, ideally, to convert them to paying customers.
Only 4.65% of homes passed stole analog cable service in 2004, down from 11.5% in NCTA's last survey in 2000. Premium is down even more, from 9.5% to 2.15%, according to NCTA.
The digital switch has meant more service security, said NCTA, with less than 1% theft of advanced services like VOIP ('voice over internet protocol' phone service), digital cable, and internet access.
But the industry is not ready to dec lare victory just yet.
NCTA says that theft still accounts for $4.75 billion in "unrealized revenue," down from $6 billion in 2000, but still 8% of the industry's $57.6 billion total gross revenue in 2004.
The study was a Frank Magid survey of cable operators for NCTA's Office of Cable Signal Theft.