Major U.S. pay TV providers lost 4.7 million subscribers in 2021

Tuesday, March 8th, 2022 
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Major Pay-TV Providers Lost About 4,700,000 Subscribers in 2021

  • Pay-TV Net Losses in 2021 Were Similar to 2020

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 4,690,000 net video subscribers in 2021, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 4,870,000 in 2020.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 76.1 million subscribers – with the top seven cable companies having 41.3 million video subscribers, other traditional pay-TV services having over 26.8 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services having 7.9 million subscribers.

Key findings for the year include:

  • Top cable providers had a net loss of about 2,695,000 video subscribers in 2021 – compared to a loss of about 1,940,000 subscribers in 2020
  • Other traditional pay-TV services had a net loss of about 2,890,000 subscribers in 2021 – compared to a loss of about 3,845,000 subscribers in 2020
  • Top publicly reporting vMVPDs added about 895,000 subscribers in 2021 – compared to a gain of about 915,000 subscribers in 2020
  • Traditional pay-TV services (not including vMVPD) had a net loss of about 5,585,000 subscribers in 2021 – compared to a net loss of about 5,785,000 in 2020

“While the pay-TV industry continued to lose subscribers, net losses in 2021 were fairly similar to those in recent years,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “In 2021, the top pay-TV providers had a net loss of about 4.7 million subscribers, compared to a pro forma loss of about 4.9 million subscribers in 2020, and a loss of 4.1 million in 2019.”

                             Subscribers at     Net Adds
Pay-TV Providers                End of 2021      in 2021
---------------------------  --------------  -----------
Cable Companies
 Comcast                         18,176,000  (1,670,000)
 Charter                         15,833,000    (367,000)
 Cox*                             3,390,000    (260,000)
 Altice**                         2,732,300    (240,900)
 Mediacom                           572,000     (71,000)
 Breezeline/Atlantic Broadband**    346,729     (36,271)
 Cable One**                        261,000     (50,000)
Total Top Cable                  41,311,029  (2,695,171)

Other Traditional Services
 DIRECTV^                        14,600,000  (1,905,000)
 DISH TV (DBS)                    8,221,000    (595,000)
 Verizon Fios (Telco)             3,644,000    (283,000)
 Frontier (Telco)*                  380,000    (105,000)
Total Top Other Traditional      26,845,000  (2,888,000)

Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
 Hulu + Live TV                   4,300,000      300,000
 Sling TV                         2,486,000       12,000
 fuboTV                           1,129,807      581,927
Total Top vMVPD^^                 7,915,807      893,927

Total Top Providers              76,071,836  (4,689,244)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
* LRG estimate
** Includes LRG pro forma estimate of net adds
^ LRG estimate. Formerly AT&T Premium TV, includes DIRECTV, U-verse, and DIRECTV Stream (formerly AT&T TV).
^^ vMVPD does not include YouTube TV or Philo, as neither regularly report results
Company subscriber counts may not solely represent residential households
Top pay-TV providers represent approximately 93% of all subscribers

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

Links: Leichtman Research