Report: Major Pay-TV Providers Lost More Than 5.1 Million Subs in 2020

The pandemic has been no lifeline for linear pay-TV. New data from Leichtman Research Group found that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. — representing about 95% of the market — lost more than 5.1 million combined video subscribers in 2020, compared with a net loss of about 4.8 million in 2019.

Top pay-TV providers now account for about 81.3 million subscribers — with the top seven cable companies having 43.9 million video subscribers; satellite TV services about 21.8 million subs; top telephone with 7.9 million subs, and the top Internet-delivered pay-TV services with 7.7 million subs.

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Leichtman found that satellite TV services narrowed sub losses to about 3.4 million subs in 2020, compared with a loss of about 3.7 million subs in 2019. The top seven cable companies lost more than 1.9 million video subs, compared with about 1.56 million subs lost in 2019.

Top telephone companies lost about 405,000 video subs, compared with a loss of about 630,000 subs in 2019. Online TV services such as Hulu+Live TV, Sling TV, AT&T TV Now and fuboTV added about 640,000 subs compared to more than one million  in 2019.

Traditional pay-TV services lost about 5.8 million subs, compared with a net loss of about 5.9 million in 2019. AT&T had a net loss of about 3.26 million across DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, AT&T TV, and AT&T TV Now compared to a net loss of about 4 million subs in 2019. AT&T “Premium TV” services lost 15.3% of subs compared to a 4.6% loss among all other traditional pay-TV services.

“Pay-TV losses were slightly higher than in 2019, and more than in any previous year,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement.  “Overall, the top pay-TV providers lost 5.9% of subs in 2020, compared to 5.2% in 2019.”

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of 4Q 2020 Net Adds in 2020
Cable Companies
Comcast 19.85 million (1.4 million)
Charter 16.2 million 56,000
Cox 3.65 million (215,000)
Altice 2.96 million (236,800)
Mediacom 643,000 (67,000)
Atlantic Broadband 318,387 1,287
Cable One 261,000 (46,000)
Total Top Cable 43.9 million (1.91 million)
Satellite Services
DirecTV 13 million (3 million)
Dish Network 8.8 million (408,000)
Total Satellite 21.8 million (3.44 million)
Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 3.93 million (302,000)
AT&T U-verse/AT&T TV 3.5 million 42,000
Frontier 485,000 (146,000)
Total Top Phone 7.9 million (406,000)
Online TV
Hulu + Live TV 4 million 800,000
Sling TV 2.47 million (118,000)
AT&T TV Now 656,000 (270,000)
fuboTV 547,880 231,880
Total Online TV 7.7 million 643,880
Total Top Providers 81.3 million (5.1 million)
Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.

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