Subscribers at major U.S. pay TV providers down 120,000 in 3Q 2020

Tuesday, November 17th, 2020
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Major Pay-TV Providers Lost About 120,000 Subscribers in 3Q 2020

  • Live Internet-Delivered vMVPDs had More net Adds 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 120,000 net video subscribers in 3Q 2020, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 945,000 in 3Q 2019.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 82.6 million subscribers – with the top seven cable companies having 44.3 million video subscribers, satellite TV services having about 22.6 million subscribers, the top telephone companies having 8.0 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services having 7.7 million subscribers.

Key findings for the quarter include:

  • Satellite TV services lost about 775,000 subscribers in 3Q 2020 – compared to a loss of about 1,140,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019
  • The top seven cable companies lost about 375,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2020 – compared to a loss of about 410,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019
  • The top telephone providers lost about 5,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2020 – compared to a loss of about 210,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019
  • The top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services (Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, AT&T TV NOW, and fuboTV) added 1,035,000 subscribers in 3Q 2020 – compared to about 815,000 net adds in 3Q 2019

“With the return of live sports in 3Q 2020, Internet-delivered vMVPDs had more net additions than in any previous quarter, and pay-TV overall had fewer net losses than in any quarter since 1Q 2018,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “It is more important than ever before to recognize vMVPDs as a key segment of the live pay-TV industry. Hulu + Live TV is now the fifth largest pay-TV service in the U.S., and YouTube TV (which is not part of LRG’s tracking data because it does not formally report quarterly results) now has over three million subscribers, including one million net additions thus far in 2020.”

                     Subscribers at     Net Adds
Pay-TV Providers     End of 3Q 2020   in 3Q 2020
----------------     --------------  -----------
Cable Companies
 Comcast                 20,094,000    (273,000)
 Charter                 16,235,000       67,000
 Cox*                     3,710,000     (60,000)
 Altice**                 3,035,100     (86,400)
 Mediacom                   663,000     (13,000)
 Atlantic Broadband         317,387        5,542
 Cable One**                277,000     (13,000)
                     --------------  -----------
Total Top Cable          44,331,487    (372,858)

Satellite Services (DBS)
 DIRECTV^                13,600,000    (690,000)
 DISH TV^^                8,965,000     (87,000)
                     --------------  -----------
Total DBS                22,565,000    (777,000)

Phone Companies
 Verizon FiOS             4,000,000     (62,000)
 AT&T U-verse/AT&T TV^    3,500,000      100,000
 Frontier                   518,000     (42,000)
                     --------------  -----------
Total Top Phone           8,018,000      (4,000)

Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
 Hulu + Live TV           4,100,000      700,000
 Sling TV                 2,458,000      203,000
 AT&T TV NOW                683,000     (37,000)
 fuboTV                     455,000      169,000
                     --------------  -----------
Total Top vMVPD***        7,696,000    1,035,000

Total Top Providers      82,610,487    (118,858)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
* LRG estimate
** Includes recent small acquisition
^ AT&T combines non-vMVPDs as “Premium TV” – separate results are LRG estimates with AT&T TV included with U-verse
^^ DISH TV removed 250,000 subs representing commercial accounts impacted by COVID-19 in 1Q 2020. In 2Q 2020, 45,000 resumed normal service, and 35,000 in 3Q 2020. DISH includes these subs in the total, but excludes them from net add/loss calculations.
*** vMVPD does not include YouTube TV (with 3 million subs) or Philo (with 800,000), as neither formally report quarterly results
Company subscriber counts may not solely represent residential household
Top pay-TV providers represent approximately 95% of all subscribers
Top cable companies do not include overbuilder WOW with 328,000 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