Major U.S. pay TV providers add 10,000 subscribers in 1Q 2016

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016
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Major Pay-TV Providers Added About 10,000 Subscribers In 1Q 2016

  • Gains from DirecTV and Cable Were Offset by Significant Losses from AT&T U-verse

DURHAM, NH — Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) found that the thirteen largest pay-TV providers in the US — representing about 95% of the market — added about 10,000 net video subscribers in 1Q 2016, compared to a gain of about 170,000 subscribers in 1Q 2015.

The top pay-TV providers account for 94.2 million subscribers — with the top nine cable companies having 49.1 million video subscribers, satellite TV companies having 34.0 million subscribers (including about 665,000 from DISH’s Internet-delivered Sling TV), and the top telephone companies having 11.1 million subscribers.

Other key findings for the quarter include:

  • The top nine cable companies added about 50,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2016 — compared to a loss of about 65,000 subscribers in 1Q 2015
  • Top cable MSOs had not reported net gains in a first quarter since 2008
  • Satellite TV providers added 305,000 subscribers in 1Q 2016 (including gains from Sling TV) — compared to a gain of 95,000 in 1Q 2015
  • Not including gains from Sling TV, DBS providers added about 175,000 subscribers in 1Q 2016 — compared to a loss of 74,000 in 1Q 2015
  • DirecTV’s net adds of 328,000 in 1Q 2016 were more than in any quarter since 1Q 2009
  • The top phone providers lost 344,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2016 — compared to a gain of 140,000 subscribers in 1Q 2015
  • AT&T U-verse’s 380,000 net losses in 1Q 2016 were the most losses ever in a quarter by any provider

“While DirecTV and top cable providers had a comparatively strong quarter in 1Q 2016, their gains were largely offset by a historically weak quarter for AT&T U-verse,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “Overall, the traditionally strong first quarter for the pay-TV industry was tepid this year. Despite slight gains in the quarter, net adds in 1Q 2016 were down by about 160,000 from a year ago.”

                                  Subscribers at    Net Adds
Pay-TV Providers                  End of 1Q 2016  in 1Q 2016
----------------                  --------------  ----------
Cable Companies
 Comcast                              22,400,000     53,000
 Time Warner Cable                    11,056,000     21,000
 Charter                               4,445,000     15,000
 Cablevision                           2,579,000    (15,000)
 Suddenlink                            1,085,000     (8,000)
 Mediacom                                853,000     (2,000)
 Cable ONE                               350,576    (13,574)
 Other major private companies*        6,345,000         --
Total Top Cable                       49,113,576     50,426

Satellite TV Companies (DBS)
 DirecTV                              20,112,000    328,000
 DISH^                                13,874,000    (23,000)
Total DBS                             33,986,000    305,000

Phone Companies
 Verizon FiOS                          5,863,000     36,000
 AT&T U-verse                          5,260,000   (380,000)
Total Top Phone                       11,123,000   (344,000)

Total Top Pay-TV Providers            94,222,576     11,426

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
* Includes LRG estimates for Cox and Bright House Networks
^ DISH totals and net adds in 1Q 2016 include its Internet-delivered Sling TV service (which began in 1Q 2015)
Net additions reflect pro forma results from system sales and acquisitions, and reporting adjustments
Company subscriber counts may not solely represent residential households
Top pay-TV providers represent approximately 95% of all subscribers
Top cable companies do not include overbuilder WOW with 537,200 subscribers
Note that LRG consumer research finds that about 1% of households subscribe to both cable and DBS