Quarterly pay-TV subscriber losses have become a regular thing in an era of over-the-top video distribution. So there was news this week when longtime television services monitor Leichtman Research Group found that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. — representing about 95% of the market — lost 60,000 fewer combined subscribers in the first quarter (ended March 31) compared to the previous-year period. Operators lost 1.89 million net video subs in 1Q, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 1.95 million subs in Q1 2020.
The top pay-TV providers now account for about 78.7 million subs — with the top seven cable companies having 43.1 million video subs, other traditional pay-TV services having about 28.9 million subs, and the top publicly reporting online pay-TV services having about 6.7 million subs.
“Over the past year, top pay-TV providers had a net loss of about 4.8 million subs, compared to a loss of about 5.1 million subs over the prior year,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said.
The report found that top cable providers had a net loss of about 775,000 video subs in 1Q 2021 — compared with a loss of about 595,000 subs in Q1 2020. Net cable losses in 1Q 2021 were more than in any previous quarter. Other traditional pay-TV services had a net loss of about 865,000 subs in Q1 2021 — compared with a loss of 1,150,000 subs in Q1 2020.
AT&T had 620,000 net losses in Q1 2021 — compared with 897,000 net losses in Q1 2020. Top publicly reporting online TV platforms had a net loss of about 255,000 subs — compared to a loss of about 210,000 subs a year ago.
Subscribers at end of 1Q 2021
Net Adds in 1Q 2021
Total Top Cable
Other Traditional Services
Total Top Other Traditional
Internet-Delivered Online TV
Hulu + Live TV
Total Top Online TV
Total Top Providers
Sources: The companies and Leichtman Research Group.
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