U.S. Pay-TV Market Defies the Recession

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Subscriptions Increase by 362,000

BATON ROUGE, La. — The economic downturn has not stopped growth in the U.S. pay-TV market, according to a study by Rider Research, which publishes the newsweekly The Online Reporter. While the increase could eventually turn negative as more people lose their jobs, the study indicates there is still strong demand among consumers for video entertainment in the home.

The number of U.S. pay-TV subscribers grew by 362,000 during the fourth quarter of 2008, a quarter in which most consumer products and services reported strongly negative results. The report is based on data in the phone, cable and satellite TV companies’ quarterly financial reports.

As a group, the telephone companies won in net adds with 567,000, compared to the satellite companies’ 199,000 (thanks solely to DIRECTV’s 301,000 increase), while the reporting cable TV companies lost 404,000. The telcos’ numbers do not include the subscriptions they sold for the satellite TV services.

The three big winners were Verizon, which added 303,000, DIRECTV with 301,000, and AT&T with 264,000.

The three big losers were Comcast, which lost 233,000 subscribers, Time Warner Cable with a loss of 197,000 and DISH Network with a 102,000 drop.

Without the telcos, DIRECTV and DISH probably would not have as many subscribers as they have. Between them, AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, Embarq and Windstream have sold almost 5 million pay-TV subscriptions for the satcos.

The satcos are continuing to creep up on the cablecos. The two satcos have a combined 31.5 million subscribers, 43 million for the cablecos, not including Comcast, Charter Communications and Bright House.

The numbers from Europe and Asia aren’t in yet but initial indications show that pay-TV subscriptions are up there as well.