Cord-cutting in Canada's traditional TV service market accelerates in Q2 2013

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 
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Publicly traded TV service providers see combined decline in subscribers in each of last three quarters

OTTAWA — Canada’s publicly traded television service providers(1) (cable, satellite, and telephone companies) lost an estimated 19,624 TV subscribers combined in the second quarter of 2013 (February/March to May/June 2013), according to new research from Ottawa-based research and consulting firm Boon Dog Professional Services Inc.

While Q2 is traditionally a slow quarter for TV service subscriber growth, the latest subscriber results signal an acceleration of so-called “cord-cutting” in the Canadian traditional TV service market. The Q2 2013 loss in subscribers followed a loss of an estimated 5,394 TV subscribers in Q1 2013 (November/December 2012 to February/March 2013) and a decrease of an estimated 8,175 in Q4 2012 (August/September to November/December 2012).

More than 90% of all traditional TV service subscribers in Canada are customers of the publicly traded TV service providers. Given that these large and best capitalized TV service providers lost customers as a whole in each of the last three quarters, Boon Dog estimates that the entire traditional TV service market also shrank by similar levels in the same periods. The analysis is contained in Boon Dog’s the Canadian Digital TV Market Monitor research series, which estimates the size of the Canadian traditional TV service market at roughly 11.8 million households at the end of Q2 2013.

“Interestingly, the ‘cord-cutting’ situation in Canada mirrors what is happening south of the border,” says Mario Mota, Boon Dog Partner and principal author of the Canadian Digital TV Market Monitor research series. “U.S. analyst Craig Moffett of Moffett Research noted in a research note last week that the U.S. TV service market has now declined for three consecutive quarters. While the decline in subscribers in Canada is small relative to the size of the total TV market, it is statistically significant because we too now have three straight quarters of data for the Canadian market that confirms that cord-cutting is a reality.”

Canadian Publicly Traded TV Service Providers
Net TV Subscriber Growth/Decline
(Q2 2013 Ended May/June 2013)

TV Service Provider    Net TV Subscriber
/Q2 End                   Growth/Decline
---------------------  -----------------
Rogers - June 30                (35,000)
Bell TV - June 30                24,605*
Shaw - May 31                   (26,578)
Vidéotron - June 30             (16,800)
Shaw Direct - May 31             (2,930)
Cogeco - May 31                  (7,363)
TELUS - June 30                  31,000
Bell Aliant - June 30            11,452
MTS - June 30                     1,990
---------------------  -----------------
Total                           (19,624)

* The Bell TV subscriber number above excludes an estimated 1,000 wholesale satellite TV subscribers sold to TELUS. This number is included in TELUS’ reported TV subscriber number so it is excluded from the reported Bell TV number to avoid double counting.

1. Rogers, Shaw/Shaw Direct, BCE, Vidéotron, Cogeco, TELUS, Bell Aliant, and MTS