Major U.S. pay TV providers lost about 2,065,000 subscribers in 1Q 2020

Thursday, May 14th, 2020
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Major Pay-TV Providers Lost About 2,065,000 Subscribers in 1Q 2020

  • Pay-TV Net Losses Were More 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 2,065,000 net video subscribers in 1Q 2020, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 1,025,000 subscribers in 1Q 2019.

The top pay-TV providers account for 83.9 million subscribers – with the top seven cable companies having 45.2 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 24.1 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 8.2 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services 6.4 million subscribers.

Key findings for the quarter include:

  • Satellite TV services lost about 1,030,000 subscribers in 1Q 2020 – compared to a loss of about 810,000 subscribers in 1Q 2019
  • The top seven cable companies lost about 595,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2020 – compared to a loss of about 335,000 subscribers in 1Q 2019
  • The top telephone companies lost about 125,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2020 – compared to a loss of about 105,000 subscribers in 1Q 2019
  • The top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services (Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, and AT&T TV NOW) lost about 320,000 subscribers in 1Q 2020 – compared to about 225,000 net adds in 1Q 2019

“Pay-TV net losses of over 2 million subscribers in 1Q 2020 were more than in any previous quarter,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “The record net losses were partly related to the impact of the coronavirus, but do not solely reflect consumers’ dropping services. Several providers cited a decrease in connects as a key component of net losses in the quarter, rather than an increase in disconnects.”

                     Subscribers at     Net Adds
Pay-TV Providers     End of 1Q 2020   in 1Q 2020
----------------     --------------  -----------
Cable Companies
 Comcast                 20,845,000    (409,000)
 Charter                 16,074,000     (70,000)
 Cox*                     3,820,000     (45,000)
 Altice                   3,137,500     (41,700)
 Mediacom                   693,000     (17,000)
 Atlantic Broadband         306,252      (2,386)
 Cable One                  303,000     (11,000)
Total Top Cable          45,178,752    (596,086)

Satellite Services (DBS)
 DIRECTV^                15,136,000    (897,000)
 DISH TV^^                9,012,000    (132,000)
Total DBS                24,148,000  (1,029,000)

Phone Companies
 Verizon FiOS             4,145,000     (84,000)
 AT&T U-verse^            3,440,000            0
 Frontier                   621,000     (39,000)
Total Top Phone           8,206,000    (123,000)

Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
 Hulu + Live TV           3,300,000      100,000
 Sling TV                 2,311,000    (281,000)
 AT&T TV NOW                788,000    (138,000)
Total Top vMVPD           6,399,000    (319,000)
----------------     --------------  -----------
Total Top Providers      83,931,752  (2,067,086)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
* LRG estimate
^ AT&T combines DIRECTV, U-verse, and AT&T TV into “Premium TV” – separate results are LRG estimates with AT&T TV included with U-verse
^^ Total includes the removal of 250,000 commercial subs due to COVID-19, DISH does not count these as net losses
Company subscriber counts may not solely represent residential households
Top pay-TV providers represent approximately 95% of all subscribers
vMVPD now includes Hulu + Live TV, but does not include YouTube TV or others that do not report quarterly subscriber totals
Top cable companies do not include overbuilder WOW with 365,800 subscribers

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