Pay TV's Q1: First Time for Losses Across the Board

According to the Leichtman Research Group, 1Q 2017 was the first time that the U.S. pay TV industry as a whole had net losses of video ...

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

According to the Leichtman Research Group, 1Q 2017 was the first time that the U.S. pay TV industry as a whole had net losses of video subscribers in a first quarter. LRG says the largest pay TV providers in the United States - representing about 95% of the market - lost about 410,000 net video subscribers in 1Q 2017, compared to a gain of about 10,000 subscribers in 1Q 2016.

The top pay TV providers account for 93.3 million subscribers - with the top six cable companies having more than 48.6 million video subscribers, satellite TV services about 33.2 million, telcos 9.8 million subscribers, and the top Internet-delivered over-the-top (OTT) pay TV services having about 1.7 million subscribers.

Among the findings for the quarter:

  • The top six cable companies lost about 115,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2017, compared to a gain of about 50,000 subscribers in 1Q 2016.
  • Satellite TV services lost about 320,000 subscribers in 1Q 2017, compared to a gain of about 175,000 subscribers in 1Q 2016. DirecTV had no net adds in 1Q 2017, compared to a gain of 328,000 in 1Q 2016.
  • The top telephone providers lost about 325,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2017, compared to a loss of 350,000 subscribers in 1Q 2016.
  • Internet-delivered OTT services (Sling TV and DirecTV Now) added about 350,000 subscribers in 1Q 2017, compared to about 130,000 net adds in 1Q 2016. Traditional pay TV services (not including Internet-delivered services) lost about 760,000 subscribers in 1Q 2017, compared to a loss of about 120,000 in 1Q 2016.

"The pay TV market lost about 410,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2017. This marked the first time that the industry has ever had net subscriber losses in the first quarter of a year," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG. "The decline in subscribers should not be interpreted as solely driven by a sudden increase in consumers disconnecting services. The net losses are also a function of a decrease in new connects, partially due to some providers less aggressively pursuing lower value customers than in the past."

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