Major U.S. pay TV providers lost ~975,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018
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Major Pay-TV Providers Lost About 975,000 Subscribers in 3Q 2018

  • Satellite TV Losses lead to more net Pay-TV Industry Losses than in any Previous 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 975,000 net video subscribers in 3Q 2018, compared to a pro forma loss of about 410,000 subscribers in 3Q 2017.

    The top pay-TV providers now account for about 90.3 million subscribers – with the top six cable companies having 47.1 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 29.9 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 9.1 million subscribers, and the top Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services 4.2 million subscribers.

    Key findings for the quarter include:

    • Satellite TV services lost about 725,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018 – compared to a loss of about 470,000 subscribers in 3Q 2017
      • DBS net losses were more than in any previous quarter
      • Net losses for DIRECTV were more than in any previous quarter
    • The top six cable companies lost about 245,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2018 – compared to a loss of about 290,000 subscribers in 3Q 2017
    • The top telephone providers lost about 80,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2018 – compared to a loss of 180,000 subscribers in 3Q 2017
    • Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services, Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW, added 75,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018 – compared to about 530,000 net adds in 3Q 2017
      • Net vMVPD adds in 3Q 2018 were fewer than in any quarter since their debut
    • Traditional pay-TV services (not including vMVPD) lost about 1,050,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018 – compared to a loss of about 940,000 in 3Q 2017

    “Overall, the top pay-TV providers lost about 975,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018. This marked the most net losses ever in a quarter for the pay-TV industry,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “Satellite TV services had more combined net losses in 3Q 2018 than in any previous quarter. These net losses were largely driven by corporate strategies focused on acquiring and retaining more profitable subscribers (as well as a programming carriage issue between DISH and Univision). A related emphasis on improving the profitability of the satellite TV company’s Internet-delivered flanker brands reduced net quarterly adds in the segment, resulting in vMVPDs not helping to mitigate overall pay-TV losses to the degree they had in recent quarters.”

                                      Subscribers at    Net Adds
    Pay-TV Providers                  End of 3Q 2018  in 3Q 2018
    ----------------                  --------------  ----------
    Cable Companies
     Comcast                              22,015,000   (106,000)
     Charter                              16,628,000    (54,000)
     Cox*                                  4,035,000    (30,000)
     Altice                                3,322,800    (28,100)
     Mediacom                                793,000    (15,000)
     Cable ONE                               328,921    (11,191)
    Total Top Cable                       47,122,721   (244,291)
    Satellite Services (DBS)
     DIRECTV                              19,625,000   (359,000)
     DISH TV                              10,286,000   (367,000)
    Total DBS                             29,911,000   (726,000)
    Phone Companies
     Verizon FiOS                          4,497,000    (63,000)
     AT&T U-verse                          3,693,000      13,000
     Frontier                                873,000    (29,000)
    Total Top Phone                        9,063,000    (79,000)
    Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
     Sling TV^                             2,370,000      26,000
     DIRECTV NOW                           1,858,000      49,000
    Total Top vMVPD^                       4,228,000      75,000
    Total Top Providers                   90,324,721   (974,291)

    Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
    * LRG estimate
    ^ Internet-delivered (vMVPD) does not include PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV, or YouTube TV, which do not publicly report subscribers
    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 412,800 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