Cord-cutting story gets more complicated

Online Video Get ready for another round of headlines touting cord-cutting. According to Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett, big cable MSOs and sat-casters are about to report some ugly quarterly subscriber numbers.

In a new forecast, Moffett projects that cable MSOs will report an aggregate net loss of  322,000 video subs in the second quarter, including 108,000 at Comcast and 101,000 at Time Warner Cable. While some of those losses will be made up by net adds at Verizion FiOS and AT&T U-Verse, overall, Moffett said, “our conviction in a positive aggregate number [for MVPD subscribers] is near zero.”

Although Moffett himself believes the declines have more to do with the lack of new household formation due to the poor economy than with actual cord-cutting, the numbers will no doubt touch off a lot of new chatter about people dropping their cable service in favor of Netflix and Hulu.

Pushing the cord-cutting angle could be trickier this time around, however, given recent developments at Netflix and Hulu. Netflix is currently battling to hold the line against its own loss of subs due to its recent — and highly unpopular — price hike. A survey of Netflix users by Morgan Stanley in the immediate aftermath of the price hike found a whopping 26.4 percent vowing to cancel their subscriptions in response.

While a good chunk of that group will probably calm down before they get around to actually cancelling their subscriptions, Netflix makes for awkward poster-child for cord-cutting right at the moment.

Likewise, uncertainty is the watchword at Hulu these days, as its future ownership remains TBD. If consumers really are determined to cut the cord, right now probably isn’t the best time to try it.