U.S. pay TV sub losses accelerate

May 15, 2019
According to the Leichtman Research Group, the largest pay TV providers in the United States - representing about 95% of the market - lost about 1,325,000 net ...

According to the Leichtman Research Group, the largest pay TV providers in the United States - representing about 95% of the market - lost about 1,325,000 net video subscribers in 1Q 2019, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 305,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018.

The top pay TV providers now account for about 87.8 million subscribers, with the top six cable companies having 46.7 million video subscribers, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) TV services 28.3 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 8.9 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay TV services 3.9 million subscribers.

Among the findings:

  • Satellite TV services lost about 810,000 subscribers in 1Q 2019, compared to a net loss of about 375,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018. DBS net losses were more than in any previous quarter, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of record net DBS losses.
  • The top six cable companies lost about 335,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2019, compared to a loss of about 285,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018.
  • The top telcos lost about 105,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2019, compared to a loss of about 50,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018.
  • Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services, Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW, lost about 75,000 subscribers in 1Q 2019, compared to about 405,000 net adds in 1Q 2018.
  • AT&T had a net loss of about 625,000 subscribers across its three pay TV services (DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, and DirecTV NOW) in 1Q 2019, compared to a net gain of about 125,000 subscribers in 1Q 2018.

"Overall, the top pay TV providers had a net loss about 1,325,000 subscribers in 1Q 2019. The leading pay TV provider in the U.S., AT&T, accounted for 47% of the net losses in the quarter," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG. "1Q 2019 was the third consecutive quarter of record pay TV net losses. This accelerated downturn in the pay TV market coincided with the decisions by AT&T and other providers to increasingly focus on long-term profitability when acquiring and retaining subscribers."        

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