Study: Satellite TV Drives 47% Surge in Pay-TV Subscriber Losses in 2018

The country’s largest pay-TV operators – representing about 95% of the market – lost more 2.8 million net video subscribers in 2018, compared to a pro forma loss of about 1.5 million subs in 2017, according to new data from Leichtman Research Group.

The pay-TV providers account for 89.1 million subscribers – with the top six cable companies having 47 million video subs, satellite TV services (29.1 million); telecoms (9 million), and top online TV services with 4 million subs.

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Specifically, Leichtman found satellite TV lost about 2.4 million subs in 2018 – compared to a loss of about 1.55 million subs in 2017. DirecTV lost 1.23 million subs in 2018 – compared to a loss of 554,000 subs in 2017. In 2018, DBS services cumulatively lost 7.5% of video subs – compared to a loss of 4.7% in 2017.

Six cable companies lost about 910,000 video subs in 2018 – compared to a loss of about 680,000 subs in 2017. In 2018, cable providers cumulatively lost 1.9% of video subs — compared to a loss of 1.4% in 2017.

Telephone companies lost about 245,000 video subs in 2018 – compared to a loss of about 885,000 in 2017. AT&T U-verse added 47,000 subscribers in 2018 – compared to a loss of 624,000 subs in 2017. In 2018, telecoms cumulatively lost 2.6% of video subscribers – compared to a loss of 8.7% in 2017.

Online TV services Sling TV and DirecTV Now, added about 640,000 subs in 2018 – compared to about 1.6 million net adds in 2017.

Subscribers to these online TV platforms increased by 19% in 2018 – compared to an increase of 90% in 2017. Traditional pay-TV services (not including online TV) lost about 3.5 subs in 2018 – compared to a loss of about 3.1 million in 2017.

“Since the industry’s peak in 1Q 2012, pay-TV subs for the top providers have declined by about 6 million,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “This reflects a decline of about 10 million subs, offset by the addition of about 4 million online TV subs.”

 

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of 4Q 2018 Net Adds in 2018
Cable Companies
Comcast 21,986,000 (371,000)
Charter 16,606,000 (244,000)
Cox* 4,015,000 (115,000)
Altice 3,307,500 (98,000)
Mediacom 776,000 (45,000)
Cable ONE 326,423 (37,465)
Total Top Cable 47,016,923 (910,465)
Satellite Services (DBS)
DIRECTV 19,222,000 (1,236,000)
DISH TV 9,905,000 (1,125,000)
Total DBS 29,197,000 (2,361,000)
Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 4,451,000 (168,000)
AT&T U-verse 3,704,000 47,000
Frontier 838,000 (123,000)
Total Top Phone 8,993,000 (244,000)
Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
Sling TV 2,417,000 205,000
DIRECTV NOW 1,591,000 436,000
Total Top vMVPD^ 4,008,000 641,000
Total Top Providers 89,144,923 (2,874,465)

 

 

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