Pay TV subscribers at major US providers down ~1,495,000 in 2017

Monday, March 12th, 2018 
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Major Pay-TV Providers Lost About 1,495,000 Subscribers In 2017

  • Satellite TV Services had More Net Losses in 2017 than in any Previous Year

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 1,495,000 net video subscribers in 2017, compared to a pro forma loss of about 760,000 subscribers in 2016.

The top pay-TV providers account for 92.2 million subscribers — with the top six cable companies having about 48.1 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 31.5 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 9.2 million subscribers, and the top Internet-delivered pay-TV services with nearly 3.4 million subscribers.

Key findings include:

  • The top six cable companies lost about 660,000 video subscribers in 2017 — compared to a loss of about 275,000 subscribers in 2016
    • In 2017, the top cable providers cumulatively lost 1.4% of video subscribers — compared to a loss of 0.6% in 2016
  • Satellite TV services lost about 1,550,000 subscribers in 2017 — compared to a loss of about 40,000 subscribers in 2016
    • DIRECTV lost 554,000 subscribers in 2017 — compared to a gain of 1,228,000 subscribers in 2016
    • In 2017, DBS services cumulatively lost 4.7% of video subscribers — compared to a loss 0.1% in 2016
  • The top telephone providers lost about 885,000 video subscribers in 2017 — compared to a loss of about 1,590,000 subscribers in 2016
    • AT&T U-verse lost 624,000 subscribers in 2017 — compared to a loss of 1,359,000 subscribers in 2016
    • In 2017, the top Telcos cumulatively lost 8.7% of video subscribers — compared to a loss of 13.6% in 2016
  • The top (publicly reporting) Internet-delivered services added about 1,600,000 subscribers in 2017 — compared to 1,145,000 net adds in 2016
    • Subscribers to the top Internet-delivered services increased by 90% in 2017
  • Traditional pay-TV services (not including Internet-delivered) lost about 3,095,000 subscribers in 2017 — compared to a loss of about 1,905,000 in 2016

“The pay-TV market saw net losses increase in 2017, and the continuation of a share shift from traditional services to newer Internet-delivered services,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “Satellite TV services, DIRECTV and DISH TV, had more combined net losses in 2017 than in any previous year, yet these losses were offset by gains from their Internet-delivered flanker brands, DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV. Overall, the top pay-TV services lost 1.6% of subscribers in 2017 compared to a loss of 0.8% in 2016.”

                                  Subscribers at     Net Adds
Pay-TV Providers                  End of 4Q 2017      in 2017
----------------                  --------------  -----------
Cable Companies
 Comcast                              22,357,000    (151,000)
 Charter                              16,997,000    (239,000)
 Altice                                3,405,500    (129,000)
 Mediacom                                821,000     (14,000)
 Cable ONE*                              283,001     (37,245)
 Other major private company**         4,200,000     (90,000)
Total Top Cable                       48,063,501    (660,245)

Satellite Services (DBS)
 DIRECTV                              20,458,000    (554,000)
 DISH TV^                             11,030,000    (995,000)
Total DBS                             31,488,000  (1,549,000)

Phone Companies
 Verizon FiOS                          4,619,000     (75,000)
 AT&T U-verse                          3,657,000    (624,000)
 Frontier                                961,000    (184,000)
Total Top Phone                        9,237,000    (883,000)

Internet-Delivered
 Sling TV^^                            2,212,000     711,000
 DIRECTV NOW                           1,155,000     888,000
Total Top Internet-Delivered           3,367,000   1,599,000
                                  --------------  -----------
Total Top Providers                   92,155,501  (1,493,245)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
* Cable ONE does not include the NewWave acquisition in 2Q 2017
** Includes LRG estimate for Cox
^ DISH began reporting DISH TV subscriber totals separately from Sling TV subscribers in 4Q 2017
DISH removed 145,000 subscribers representing all subs in PR and USVI due to Hurricane Maria.
DISH’s Pay-TV subs in 4Q 2017 include 75,000 re-activations in PR and USVI
^^ Includes subscribers to Sling International and Sling Latino
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
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