Major U.S. pay-TV providers lost 1.74 million subscribers in 3Q 2019

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
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Major Pay-TV Providers Lost About 1,740,000 Subscribers in 3Q 2019

  • AT&T Accounted for 79% of 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 93% of the market – lost about 1,740,000 net video subscribers in 3Q 2019, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 975,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 84.8 million subscribers – with the top seven cable companies having 46.1 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 26.3 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 8.6 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services 3.8 million subscribers.

Key findings for the quarter include:

  • Satellite TV services lost about 1,140,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019 – compared to a net loss of about 725,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018
  • DIRECTV had record net losses for the sixth consecutive quarter, while DISH TV had fewer net losses than in any quarter since 3Q 2014
  • The top seven cable companies lost about 410,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2019 – compared to a loss of about 245,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018
  • The top telephone providers lost about 210,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2019 – compared to a loss of about 80,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018
  • Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services, Sling TV and AT&T NOW, added about 20,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019 – compared to about 75,000 net adds in 3Q 2018
  • AT&T had a net loss of about 1,370,000 subscribers across its three pay-TV services (DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, and AT&T NOW) in 3Q 2019 – compared to a net loss of about 295,000 subscribers in 3Q 2018

“The top pay-TV providers had a net loss of about 1,740,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019. This marked the fifth consecutive quarter of record pay-TV industry net losses,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “AT&T, the leading pay-TV provider in the U.S., accounted for 79% of the net losses in the quarter compared to 30% of net losses in 3Q 2018. This change is largely the result of AT&T’s strategic decision to increasingly focus on retaining and acquiring more profitable subscribers.”

                                  Subscribers at     Net Adds
Pay-TV Providers                  End of 3Q 2019   in 3Q 2019
----------------                  --------------  -----------
Cable Companies
 Comcast                              21,403,000    (238,000)
 Charter                              16,245,000     (75,000)
 Cox*                                  3,900,000     (40,000)
 Altice                                3,223,400     (31,900)
 Mediacom                                729,000     (18,000)
 Atlantic Broadband                      312,555        5,294
 Cable ONE                               298,063     (10,430)
Total Top Cable                       46,111,018    (408,036)

Satellite Services (DBS)
 DIRECTV^                             16,828,000  (1,073,000)
 DISH TV                               9,494,000     (66,000)
Total DBS                             26,322,000  (1,139,000)

Phone Companies
 Verizon FiOS                          4,280,000     (66,000)
 AT&T U-verse^                         3,600,000    (104,000)
 Frontier                                698,000     (40,000)
Total Top Phone                        8,578,000    (210,000)

Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
 Sling TV                              2,686,000      214,000
 AT&T NOW^^                            1,145,000    (195,000)
Total Top vMVPD                        3,831,000       19,000

Total Top Providers                   84,842,018  (1,738,036)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
* LRG estimate
** Altice adjusted subscriber totals for quarters prior to 3Q 2019
^ AT&T combines totals for DIRECTV and U-verse into “Premium TV” – separate results are LRG estimates
^^ The DIRECTV NOW brand name was changed to AT&T NOW in 3Q 2019

Company subscriber counts may not solely represent residential households
Top pay-TV providers represent approximately 93% of all subscribers
Top cable does not include overbuilder WOW with 380,800 subscribers
Internet-delivered (vMVPD) does not include Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, or others that do not publicly report subscriber counts

Net additions reflect pro forma results from system sales and acquisitions, reporting adjustments, and the addition of new providers to the list – therefore, comparing totals in this release to prior releases will not produce accurate findings