U.S. DBS subscriber losses in 3Q 2017 worse than in any previous quarter

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 
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Major Pay-TV Providers Lost About 405,000 Subscribers In 3Q 2017

  • Top Internet-Delivered Pay-TV Services Added About 535,000 in 3Q 2017

DURHAM, NH — Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) found that the largest pay-TV providers in the US — representing about 95% of the market — lost about 405,000 net video subscribers in 3Q 2017, compared to a loss of about 250,000 subscribers in 3Q 2016.

The top pay-TV providers account for 92.2 million subscribers — with the top six cable companies having 48.1 million video subscribers, satellite TV services about 32.3 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 9.3 million subscribers, and the top Internet-delivered pay-TV services having about 2.5 million subscribers.

Key findings for the quarter include:

  • The top six cable companies lost about 290,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2017 — compared to a loss of about 90,000 subscribers in 3Q 2016
  • Satellite TV services lost about 475,000 subscribers in 3Q 2017 — compared to a gain of about 5,000 subscribers in 3Q 2016
    • DBS net losses were more than in any previous quarter
    • DIRECTV had 251,000 net losses in 3Q 2017 — compared to a gain of 323,000 in 3Q 2016
  • The top telephone providers lost about 180,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2017 — compared to a loss of about 370,000 subscribers in 3Q 2016
  • Internet-delivered services (Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW) added about 535,000 subscribers in 3Q 2017 — compared to about 200,000 net adds in 3Q 2016

“The top two Internet-delivered pay-TV services added over a half million subscribers in 3Q 2017, bringing their combined total to nearly 2.5 million subscribers, and further entrenching this newer form of delivery as part of today’s pay-TV industry,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “Overall, the top pay-TV providers lost about 155,000 more subscribers in 3Q 2017 than in 3Q 2016.”

                                  Subscribers at     Net Adds
Pay-TV Providers                  End of 3Q 2017   in 3Q 2017
----------------                  --------------  -----------
Cable Companies
 Comcast                              22,390,000    (126,000)
 Charter                              16,982,000     (89,000)
 Altice                                3,430,200     (32,500)
 Mediacom                                823,000      (6,000)
 Cable ONE*                              287,260     (10,730)
 Other major private company**         4,220,000     (25,000)
Total Top Cable                       48,132,460    (289,230)

Satellite Services (DBS)
 DIRECTV                              20,605,000    (251,000)
 DISH-DBS^                            11,668,000    (224,000)
Total DBS                             32,273,000    (475,000)

Phone Companies
 Verizon FiOS                          4,648,000     (18,000)
 AT&T U-verse                          3,718,000    (135,000)
 Frontier                                981,000     (26,000)
Total Top Phone                        9,347,000    (179,000)

Internet-Delivered
 Sling TV^                             1,680,000     240,000
 DIRECTV NOW                             787,000     296,000
Total Top Internet-Delivered           2,467,000     536,000
                                  --------------  -----------
Total Top Providers                   92,219,460    (407,230)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
* Cable ONE does not include the NewWave acquisition in May 2017
** Includes LRG estimate for Cox
^ DISH reports combined DBS and Sling TV subscribers, the individual counts for DISH and Sling TV are LRG estimates
  Does not remove DBS subs in PR and USVI with “paused service” due to Hurricane Maria
Company subscriber counts may not solely represent residential households
Top pay-TV providers represent approximately 95% of all subscribers
Top cable does not include overbuilder WOW with 442,500 subscribers
Internet-delivered does not include PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV, or YouTube TV which have not publicly reported sub totals
Net additions reflect pro forma results from system sales and acquisitions, and reporting adjustments — therefore, comparing totals in this release to prior releases may not produce accurate findings

Links: Leichtman Research