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.
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.”
Subscribers at end of 4Q 2020
Net Adds in 2020
Total Top Cable
AT&T U-verse/AT&T TV
Total Top Phone
Hulu + Live TV
AT&T TV Now
Total Online TV
Total Top Providers
Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
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