Report: Pay-TV Q1 Sub Losses Decline Slightly

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.

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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.

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of 1Q 2021 Net Adds in 1Q 2021
Cable Companies
Comcast 19.35 million (491,000)
Charter 16.06 million (138,000)
Cox 3.59 million (60,000)
Altice 2.9 million (54,400)
Mediacom 626,000 (17,000)
Atlantic Broadband 313,591 (4,796)
Cable One 252,000 (9,000)
Total Top Cable 43.1 million (774,196)
Other Traditional Services
AT&T 15.88 million (620,000)
Dish TV 8.68 million (130,000)
Verizon FiOS 3.84 million (82,000)
Frontier 453,000 (32,000)
Total Top Other Traditional 28.86 million (864,000)
Internet-Delivered Online TV
Hulu + Live TV 3.8 million (200,000)
Sling TV 2.37 million (100,000)
fuboTV 590,430 42,550


Total Top Online TV 6.76 million (257,450)
Total Top Providers 78.73 million (1.89 million)
Sources: The companies and Leichtman Research Group.

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