According to Strategy Analytics' analysis of U.S. pay TV subscriber numbers, virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) had 868,000 net adds in the second quarter ofQ 2018, bringing the total number of vMVPD subscribers to 6.73 million, up 119% year over year. However, overall pay TV subscriber numbers (cable, satellite, IPTV, vMVPD) fell to 93.78 million, breaking a string of two consecutive quarters of growth.
"While the entire vMVPD segment is growing, AT&T's DirecTV NOW deserves special notice," said Michael Goodman, director, Television & Media Strategies, "given how rapidly it has grown in a fairly short period of time. If it continues on its current growth trajectory, it will overtake Sling TV as the largest vMVPD in early 2019."
In comparison, 2Q 2018 was not particularly kind to legacy pay TV providers (e.g., cable, satellite, IPTV) as they lost nearly as many subscribers (-973,000) as the prior two quarters combined (-1.16 million). In 2Q 2018, total legacy pay TV subscriptions fell to 87.05 million, down 3.6% YoY.
"Historically, pay TV in the U.S. has consisted of cable, satellite, and IPTV; however, the introduction of over-the-top pay TV services, commonly referred to as vMVPDs, necessitates a change in our thinking," said Goodman. "What we have commonly referred to as pay TV (cable, satellite, and IPTV) should now be referred to as Legacy Pay TV, while the definition of pay TV should include vMVPDs."