Major U.S. pay TV providers lost ~1,325,000 subscribers in 1Q 2019

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019 
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Major Pay-TV Providers Lost About 1,325,000 Subscribers in 1Q 2019

  • AT&T Accounted for Nearly Half of all net Losses in the 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 1,325,000 net video subscribers in 1Q 2019, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 305,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 87.8 million subscribers – with the top six cable companies having 46.7 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 28.3 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 8.9 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services 3.9 million subscribers.

Key findings for the quarter include:

  • Satellite TV services lost about 810,000 subscribers in 1Q 2019 – compared to a net loss of about 375,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018
    • DBS net losses were more than in any previous quarter, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of record net DBS losses
  • The top six cable companies lost about 335,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2019 – compared to a loss of about 285,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018
  • The top telephone providers lost about 105,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2019 – compared to a loss of about 50,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018
  • Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services, Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW, lost about 75,000 subscribers in 1Q 2019 – compared to about 405,000 net adds in 1Q 2018
  • AT&T had a net loss of about 625,000 subscribers across its three pay-TV services (DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, and DIRECTV NOW) in 1Q 2019 – compared to a net gain of about 125,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018

“Overall, the top pay-TV providers had a net loss about 1,325,000 subscribers in 1Q 2019. The leading pay-TV provider in the U.S., AT&T, accounted for 47% of the net losses in the quarter,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “1Q 2019 was the third consecutive quarter of record pay-TV net losses. This accelerated downturn in the pay-TV market coincided with the decisions by AT&T and other providers to increasingly focus on long-term profitability when acquiring and retaining subscribers.”

                                  Subscribers at     Net Adds
Pay-TV Providers                  End of 1Q 2019   in 1Q 2019
----------------                  --------------  -----------
Cable Companies
 Comcast                              21,866,000    (120,000)
 Charter                              16,461,000    (145,000)
 Cox*                                  3,980,000     (35,000)
 Altice                                3,297,300     (10,200)
 Mediacom                                764,000     (12,000)
 Cable ONE**                             320,611     (11,500)
Total Top Cable                       46,688,911    (333,700)

Satellite Services (DBS)
 DIRECTV^                             18,679,000    (543,000)
 DISH TV                               9,639,000    (266,000)
Total DBS                             28,318,000    (809,000)

Phone Companies
 Verizon FiOS                          4,398,000     (53,000)
 AT&T U-verse^                         3,704,000            0
 Frontier                                784,000     (54,000)
Total Top Phone                        8,886,000    (107,000)

Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
 Sling TV                              2,424,000        7,000
 DIRECTV NOW                           1,508,000     (83,000)
Total Top vMVPD^^                      3,932,000     (76,000)
                                  --------------  -----------
Total Top Providers                   87,824,911  (1,325,700)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
* LRG estimate
** Includes a change in reporting methodology – net adds are an LRG estimate
^ AT&T now combines totals for DIRECTV and U-verse into “Premium TV” – separate results are LRG estimates
^^ Internet-delivered (vMVPD) does not include Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, fuboTV, or Philo, 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 398,000 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

Links: Leichtman Research