Cord-cutting in Canada slows in the first half of 2017

Monday, August 14th, 2017
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TV ‘cord-cutting’ in Canada bucks the trend, slows in the first half of 2017 compared to the previous year, according to new research

OTTAWA — Canada’s publicly traded television service providers[1] combined lost 22% fewer TV subscribers in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, bucking the trend of accelerating TV cord-cutting in recent years, according to new research from Ottawa-based research and consulting firm Boon Dog Professional Services Inc.

The big TV service providers combined lost 101,000* TV subscribers in their respective fiscal 2017 first and second quarters, down from 129,000* lost in the same quarters in 2016.

“The significant turnaround in TV subscriber performance at Shaw Cable as a result of the launch of its BlueSky TV service based on Comcast’s X1 TV platform is almost entirely behind the improved cord-cutting numbers for the first half of 2017,” says Boon Dog Partner Mario Mota. “Should Shaw continue its momentum and other cable companies benefit from similar planned TV service improvements, TV cord-cutting could slow in 2017 for the first time in years.”

Mota notes, however, that TV subscriber losses are just part of the picture that is the traditional TV subscription market in Canada. With about 200,000 housing starts in Canada the traditional TV service providers are losing pace with household growth in the country and therefore TV subscription penetration is declining at a greater level than simply the cord-cutting numbers suggest.

A full analysis of the latest TV subscriber metrics and subscriber forecasts will be published in the next report in Boon Dog’s Canadian Digital TV Market Monitor research series.

Canadian Publicly Traded TV Service Providers Net TV Subscriber Growth/Decline
(Fiscal Q1 Ended February 28/March 31, 2017 and Fiscal Q2 Ended May 31/June 30, 2017)

TV Service Provider &                 Net TV Subscriber
Fiscal Q1 and Q2 2017 End                Growth/Decline
------------------------------------  -----------------
BCE – March 31 and June 30                     (20,893)
Rogers – March 31 and June 30                  (49,000)
Shaw – February 28 and May 31                    1,364
Vidéotron – March 31 and June 30               (34,200)
Shaw Direct – February 28 and May 31             1,952
Cogeco – February 28 and May 31                (11,154)
TELUS – March 31 and June 30                    11,000
Total                                         (100,931)

Note: The BCE number in the table above excludes growth/decline in wholesale satellite TV subscribers sold to TELUS. This number is included in TELUS’ reported TV subscriber number so it is excluded from the reported BCE TV number to avoid double counting

[1] BCE, Rogers, Shaw/Shaw Direct, Vidéotron, Cogeco, and TELUS

* Rounded numbers and excluding any acquisitions and divestitures