U.S. pay TV sub losses slowed in 2Q

According to the Leichtman Research Group, pay TV industry losses in the second quarter of 2018 were lower than in any second quarter ...

Broadband growth slowing, cable still leads
Broadband growth slowing, cable still leads

According to the Leichtman Research Group, pay TV industry losses in the second quarter of 2018 were lower than in any second quarter since 2014, partly buoyed by gains in the Internet-delivered TV segment.

LRG says the largest pay TV providers in the United States - representing about 95% of the market - lost about 415,000 net video subscribers in 2Q 2018, compared to a pro forma loss of about 660,000 subscribers in 2Q 2017.

The top pay TV providers now account for about 91.3 million subscribers, with the top six cable companies having 47.4 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 30.6 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 9.1 million subscribers, and the top Internet-delivered pay TV services 4.2 million subscribers.

Among the findings:

  • The top six cable companies lost about 275,000 video subscribers in 2Q 2018, compared to a loss about 190,000 subscribers in 2Q 2017.
  • Satellite TV services lost about 480,000 subscribers in 2Q 2018, compared to a loss of about 470,000 subscribers in 2Q 2017. DBS net losses were more than in any previous quarter, and net losses for DirecTV were more than in any previous quarter.
  • The top telcos lost about 45,000 video subscribers in 2Q 2018, compared to a loss of 270,000 subscribers in 2Q 2017. Net losses for the top telcos were the fewest in any quarter since 3Q 2015. AT&T U-verse reported net video additions for the first time since 1Q 2015.
  • Internet-delivered services (Sling TV and DirecTV NOW) added about 385,000 subscribers in 2Q 2018, compared to about 270,000 net adds in 2Q 2017.
  • Traditional pay TV services (not including Internet-delivered services) lost about 800,000 subscribers in 2Q 2018, compared to a loss of about 930,000 in 2Q 2017.

"The top pay TV providers lost about 415,000 subscribers in 2Q 2018. This marked the fewest net losses in the traditionally weak second quarter since 2014," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst at LRG. "The two publicly reporting Internet-delivered pay TV services now have over 4 million subscribers. This newer segment of the industry has helped to mitigate overall pay TV losses, while also contributing to a share shift from traditional services. This shift is both a product of consumers opting for more economical services, as well as changes in providers' strategies."

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