Ascent Capital Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: ASCMA), owners of MONI (formerly known as Monitronics), the largest alarm and smart home monitoring company, is gaining traction with its new Livewatch DIY initiative sold direct-to-consumer. The results are lowering its acquisition costs for new accounts, plus a boost in its RMR.
Overall, MONI still reported a net revenue drop of 1.4 percent for the first three months of 2017. Total net revenue was $141.2 million for the quarter.
The company has a total of 1,036,794 monitored accounts. That is after it added 125,457 during the past 12 months but lost 150,568 due to attrition. MONI’s net account attrition rates stands at 12.3 percent when also taking into account subscribers it lost that were guaranteed by the dealers who sold MONI the accounts.
Jeffery Gardner, president and CEO of MONI, says, “We are off to a solid start in 2017, executing against our key operational initiatives and laying the groundwork for profitable growth. During the quarter, we successfully launched our direct sales channel, an important first step as we continue to diversify our distribution. Our commitment to enabling the success of our dealers is also bearing fruit with marketing generated leads increasing a solid 23 percent year-over-year. Through the use of our predictive churn analytics we have also doubled the number of touch points we have with at-risk customers, helping us extend contracts for over 10,000 customers in the first quarter. Finally, our LiveWatch business continues to scale nicely with strong revenue and RMR growth. While there is still more work ahead of us, I am pleased with our efforts and results to date and believe we are well positioned for the future.”
MONI Targets DIY
Dallas-based MONI has traditionally garnered accounts from integrators, but it launched is new direct sales and installation channel in Q1 2017. The Livewatch DIY program, which Ascent purchased last year, has enabled the monitoring firm to reduce its cost to acquire a new account to a 35.6X multiple. That is down from 36.9X in 2015.
MONI is marketing Livewatch online and has partnerships with AAA and AARP, among others. Livewatch growth is currently 39 percent per year, with monthly monitoring fees averaging $41/month.
Gardner called the new direct sales channel “modest” but says he believes it will accelerate throughout the year. The company has shifted from a lead-generation marketing effort for its dealers to a direct sales effort with its own sales team and technicians. Gardner says the direct sales are “ramping nicely,” while also noting that “account growth within our dealer channel was down year-over-year.”
To help stem attrition, MONI has a new “predictive churn analytics” program that proactively addresses “at-risk customers” who might cancel. The company has its best-performing sales reps contact those clients in an effort to extend their contracts. That program was able to increase the average number of contract extensions per week from 1,600 in Q1 2016 to nearly 2,500 by the end of Q1 2017.