Major U.S. pay TV providers lost ~305,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018

Thursday, May 17th, 2018
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Major Pay-TV Providers Lost About 305,000 Subscribers in 1Q 2018

  • Fewer Net Pay-TV Losses Reported than in Last Year’s First Quarter

DURHAM, NH — Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) found that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. – representing about 95% of the market – lost about 305,000 net video subscribers in 1Q 2018, compared to a pro forma loss of about 515,000 subscribers in 1Q 2017.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 91.9 million subscribers – with the top six cable companies having 47.8 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 31.1 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 9.2 million subscribers, and the top Internet-delivered pay-TV services 3.8 million subscribers.

Key findings for the quarter include:

  • The top six cable companies lost about 285,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2018 – compared to a loss about 115,000 subscribers in 1Q 2017
  • Satellite TV services lost about 375,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018 – compared to a loss of about 340,000 subscribers in 1Q 2017
  • The top telephone providers lost about 50,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2018 – compared to a loss of 325,000 subscribers in 1Q 2017
    • Net losses for the top Telcos in 1Q 2018 were the fewest in any quarter since 3Q 2015
    • AT&T U-verse did not report net video losses for the first time since 1Q 2015
  • Internet-delivered services (Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW) added about 405,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018 – compared to about 265,000 net adds in 1Q 2017
  • Traditional pay-TV services (not including Internet-delivered services) lost about 710,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018 – compared to a loss of about 780,000 in 1Q 2017

“The number of pay-TV subscribers for the top providers peaked six years ago. Since 1Q 2012, top providers have lost about 3.4 million total pay-TV subscribers,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “Since the industry’s peak, traditional services have lost about 7.2 million subscribers, while the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered services gained about 3.8 million subscribers.”

                                  Subscribers at    Net Adds
Pay-TV Providers                  End of 1Q 2018  in 1Q 2018
----------------                  --------------  ----------
Cable Companies
 Comcast                              22,261,000    (96,000)
 Charter                              16,885,000   (112,000)
 Cox*                                  4,100,000    (30,000)
 Altice                                3,375,100    (30,400)
 Mediacom                                817,000     (4,000)
 Cable ONE**                             350,874    (13,014)
Total Top Cable                       47,788,974   (285,414)

Satellite Services (DBS)
 DIRECTV                              20,270,000   (188,000)
 DISH TV^                             10,845,000   (185,000)
Total DBS                             31,115,000   (373,000)

Phone Companies
 Verizon FiOS                          4,597,000    (22,000)
 AT&T U-verse                          3,657,000           0
 Frontier                                934,000    (27,000)
Total Top Phone                        9,188,000    (49,000)

 Sling TV^^                            2,303,000      91,000
 DIRECTV NOW                           1,467,000     312,000
Total Top Internet-Delivered           3,770,000     403,000
                                  --------------  ----------
Total Top Providers                   91,861,974   (304,414)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
* LRG estimate, revised from prior periods
** Cable ONE total and net adds include the acquisition of NewWave
^ DISH removed 145,000 subscribers due to Hurricane Maria. DISH’s subscribers in 1Q 2018 include 24,000 reactivations
^^ 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 with 429,000 subscribers
Internet-delivered does not include PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV, or YouTube TV, which do not publicly report subscribers

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