Kagan: Record losses for traditional pay TV

March 11, 2020
Research house Kagan says the decline in U.S. multichannel video subscriptions accelerated to new levels in 2019, reflecting a consumer viewing transition magnified by ...

Research house Kagan says the decline in U.S. multichannel video subscriptions accelerated to new levels in 2019, reflecting a consumer viewing transition magnified by additional streaming video options and shifting service provider approaches that effectively de-emphasize the big subscription package.

Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence, estimates full-year 2019 subscriptions to traditional cable, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) and telecommunications (telco) video services dropped 7.1%.

Virtual services, which rely on unmanaged broadband delivery, added more than 1.8 million subscriptions in 2019. Though a bright spot, it did not overcome the long shadow of cord cutting that saw a reduction to combined traditional and virtual subscriptions of more than 4.5 million in 2019.

Among the findings:

  • Combined cable, DBS and telco subscriptions fell by more than 1.6 million. It was a slower pace than the third quarter record decline, but marked a 50% jump in the more relevant year-over-year comparison.
  • Satellite accounted for the bulk of the traditional decline. Combined quarterly net losses for DIRECTV and DISH Network came in at an estimated 863,000.
  • An estimated 63.4% of occupied U.S. households subscribed to traditional multichannel video service in the fourth quarter. Combining virtual and traditional subscriptions pushes the metric up to nearly 71%.        

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