Report: Pandemic Drove 4.9 Million Broadband Additions Among Top ISPs in 2020

With more consumers housebound due to the pandemic, subscriptions for high-speed Internet, or broadband, grew significantly, according to new data from Leichtman Research Group. The Durham, N.H.-based firm found that the largest cable and wireline phone providers in the U.S. — representing about 96% of the market — acquired more than 4.8 million net additional broadband Internet subscribers in 2020, compared with a gain of about 2.55 million subs in 2019.

The following broadband providers now account for 105.8 million subs, with cable companies accounting for 72.8 million broadband subs, and telecoms having 33 million subs.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Overall, broadband additions in 2020 were 190% higher than in 2019, and more than in any year since 2008. Cable companies added about 4.82 million subs compared to 3.15 million adds in 2019, and the most in any year since 2006.

Charter’s 2.21 million broadband additions were more than any company had in a year since 2006. Telecoms added about 40,000 subs compared to a loss of about 590,000 subs in 2019. The industry had positive net annual broadband adds for the first time since 2014. At the end of 2020, cable had a 69% market share vs. 31% for telecoms.

“With the impact of the pandemic, there were more net broadband additions in 2020 than in any year since 2008,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “The top cable and telecom providers in the U.S. cumulatively added about 4.86 million subs in 2020, compared to about 5.1 million subs in 2018 and 2019 combined.”

Broadband Providers Subscribers at end of 4Q 2020 Net Adds in 2020
Cable Companies
Comcast 30.6 million 1.97 million
Charter 28.9 million 2.21 million
Cox 5.38 million 210,000
Altice 4.36 million 142,200
Mediacom 1.43 million 110,000
Cable One 857,000 101,000
WOW 813,800 32,300
Atlantic Broadband 504,621 37,871
Total Top Cable 72.8 million 4.82 million
Telecoms
AT&T 15.4 million (5,000)
Verizon 7.12 million 173,000
CenturyLink/Lumen 4.54 million (134,000)
Frontier 3.1 million (111,000)
Windstream 1.1 million 60,000
Consolidated 792,200 8,035
TDS 493,300 38,100
Cincinnati Bell 436,100 10,400
Total Telecom 32.9 million 39,535
Total Broadband 105.8 million 4.85 million
Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.

Parks: Online Video Topped Broadband Home Services During Pandemic

New data from Parks Associates found that online video service use jumped to 60% of U.S. broadband homes in September 2020, compared with 50% in July. The trend reverberated across other online activities, including video conferencing, ecommerce, remote working, schooling, and fitness.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The Dallas-based research firm found that 51% of domestic broadband households bought at least one consumer electronics product between February and September 2020, including computing, networking, entertainment, and mobile devices.

The report found that as of September 2020, 41% of U.S. broadband households, representing 45 million households, were engaged in remote work or remote schooling; 62% of remote workers are using their home broadband more than usual, nearly double the rate of non-remote workers.

This research series leverages Parks’ ongoing consumer surveys of 10,000 broadband households per quarter, as well as targeted surveys of 5,000, to identify trends and deliver ongoing insights into how consumers are responding COVID-19, including the impact to market fundamentals and product purchases, service subscriptions and usage, and home services.

“With record-high unemployment, household spending is primarily on essential goods, as uncertainty about the future remains high,” Elizabeth Parks, president, Parks Associates, said in a statement. “Some technology products are viewed as essential tools. Companies have changed how they interact with their customers — leveraging e-commerce channels, offering new curbside pick-up and delivery options, and providing remote rather than in-home technical support services.”

Key findings include that overall churn rate for OTT services dropped to 38%, down from 46% a year ago. COVID-19 prompted roughly 33% of security system owners and intenders to avoid professional installers; 24% of households with fixed broadband service reported being likely to upgrade in the next six months.

About 60% of pay-TV subscribers are interested in content from an online video service as part of their pay-TV subscription. Use of telehealth services jumped from 15% in 2Q 2019 to 41% in 2Q 2020.

As previously reported, more than 15 million households have only a mobile broadband service, including more than 12 million that cut the cord on their home broadband and approximately three million that have never had home broadband services.

Parks: More Than 12 Million U.S. Households Have Cut Broadband Service

Parks Associates reported that more than 12 million U.S. households have canceled their home broadband service and use only mobile broadband for their Internet needs. The Dallas-based research firm finds there are more than 15 million domestic households that have only a mobile broadband service, which includes more than three million households that have never had home high-speed Internet service.

The finding is noteworthy since high-speed Internet access is key to over-the-top video consumption, and mobile broadband service providers cap user data at a far lower rate than traditional ISPs. Indeed, Comcast, arguably the largest broadband provider in the country, added two million high-speed subscribers in 2020.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“High cost is the most prominent issue driving households to cut the cord and go mobile only, although service-related issues, from slow speeds to poor customer experience, also contribute,” analyst Kristen Hanich said in a statement.

Currently 94% of all U.S. broadband households use Wi-Fi networking at home, and more than half report problems with their Internet. Parks found that “smart Wi-Fi,” or mesh networking products that would improve Wi-Fi coverage are powerful incentives to staunch churn, as 75% of households likely to switch would stay with their current provider if offered these solutions.

The study said broadband ability to deliver the necessary speeds are more critical now as 41% of broadband households were engaged in remote work or remote schooling. The increase in at-home activity has renewed consumers’ focus on their broadband speeds.

“In September 2020, 9% of broadband households had upgraded their home’s broadband service in the previous 12 months, and the COVID-19 crisis was the main reason for 80% of those upgrades,” Hanich said.

Parks: 40% of Broadband Homes Have Tried OTT Video During Pandemic

Homebound consumers due to the pandemic contributed to 40% of U.S. broadband households trying at least one OTT video service during the COVID-19 crisis, while one-third of smart home device owners have increased usage of these products, according to new data from Parks Associates.

The Dallas-based research firm’s whitepaper “2021 Consumer Tech Trends to Watch” highlights some of the biggest announcements from CES 2021 and the technology trends Parks’ analysts believe will shape 2021.

“CES 2021 saw the traditional TV market leaders like LG, Sony, and Samsung redoubling their efforts to differentiate their sets in the face of extremely aggressive competition,” senior analyst Paul Erickson said in a statement. “This new competitive environment has forced all CE market leaders to innovate in new ways, with new visual designs and [artificial intelligence] features.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Parks contends major TV manufacturers are looking beyond upgrades in display technology and performance to differentiate from competitors and add value to the home entertainment experience through services such as cross-platform gaming, exclusive streaming content, and even in-home fitness training.

Many product lines are looking to leverage the spike in OTT usage — subscriptions and viewing hours have increased and subscription rates for OTT services have risen from 71% of all U.S. broadband households to 78% in Q3 2020.

“As audiences remain in lockdown and COVID-19 continues to impact original content production schedules, library content continues to dominate in the streaming wars,” said research director Steve Nason. “Entertainment companies are looking for strategies to retain these new subscribers and emulate the live entertainment experience at home.”

Parks: 24% of U.S. Broadband Households Likely to Upgrade Service in Next Six Months

In an over-the-top video world, high-speed Internet service is a requisite. Parks Associates Feb. 11 released new data revealing that in Q3 2020, more than 50% of U.S. broadband households reported that their broadband usage had increased since the start of the COVID-19 crisis — which has seen an increase in at-home activities including work and schooling. While consumers report broadband performance is keeping pace with the increased demand, in Q3 2020, 24% of fixed broadband households reported plans to upgrade their speed in the next six months, compared with 18% in Q2 2020.

The largest cable and wireline phone providers in the U.S. — representing about 96% of the market — acquired about 1.53 million new broadband subscribers in Q3 2020, compared with a gain of about 615,000 subscribers in Q3 2019, according to Leichtman Research.

These top broadband providers now account for about 104.9 million subscribers, with top cable companies having about 72 million broadband subscribers, and top wireline phone companies having about 32.9 million subscribers.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“Broadband upgrade plans indicate many households see some COVID-19-related changes as permanent,” analyst Steve Nason said in a statement. “For video services, OTT service stacking has been particularly pronounced, with 45% of U.S. broadband households subscribing to three or more services. Many consumers are planning to add new services such as Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and Peacock as a permanent part of their OTT service portfolio, beyond the traditional Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.”

Parks found that the pandemic continues to widen the OTT/pay-TV gap. As many consumers across the U.S. remain homebound, they are continually relying on video content to fill their time outside of work and school. Within video services, COVID-19 has accelerated the trend of video viewers accessing OTT offerings at much higher rates than a pay-TV service via a traditional or online provider.

“Many traditional pay-TV subscribers are migrating to online pay-TV offerings or standalone OTT services,” Nason said. “Traditional providers, who still comprise the majority of the pay-TV market, have to continually seek ways to integrate online video services into their offerings either through homegrown solutions or external partnerships.”

1.53 Million Homes Added Broadband in Q3 — The Most in 11 Years

As pay-TV operators continue to hemorrhage video subscribers to cord-cutting and over-the-top alternatives, a silver lining has emerged: high-speed Internet. Linear TV providers have become broadband gatekeepers enabling households to access the World Wide Web while offering a fiscal lifeline to an industry in flux.

New data from Leichtman Research Group found that the largest cable and wireline phone providers in the U.S. — representing about 96% of the market — acquired about 1.53 million net additional broadband Internet subscribers in 3Q 2020, compared with a pro forma gain of about 615,000 subs in 3Q 2019.

These top broadband providers now account for about 104.9 million subscribers, with top cable companies having about 72 million broadband subs, and top wireline phone companies having about 32.9 million subs.

Findings for the quarter include:

  • Overall, broadband additions in 3Q 2020 were about 915,000 more than in 3Q 2019.
  • Broadband additions in 3Q 2020 were the most in any quarter since 1Q 2009.
  • The top cable companies added about 1,320,000 subscribers in 3Q 2020 — compared with a net gain of about 830,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019.
  • Cable broadband had over one million net adds for the third consecutive quarter — the first time since 3Q 2006 to 1Q 2007.
  • Comcast’s 633,000 net adds in 3Q 2020 were more than in any quarter in the past 15 years.
  • The top wireline phone companies added about 210,000 subscribers in 3Q 2020 – compared to a net loss of about 220,000 subscribers in 3Q 2019

 

“With the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there were more quarterly net broadband additions in 3Q 2020 than in any quarter in over eleven years,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “Over the past year, there were about 4.55 million net broadband adds, compared with about 2.55 million net broadband adds over the prior year. This marks the most broadband net adds in a year since 3Q 2008 to 2Q 2009.”

Broadband Providers Subscribers at end of 3Q 2020 Net Adds in 3Q 2020
Cable Companies
Comcast 30.06 million 633,000
Charter 28.63 million 537,000
Cox 5.33 million 50,000
Altice 4.36 million 26,000
Mediacom 1.42 million 29,000
Cable One 865,000 27,000
WOW (WideOpenWest) 808,900 3,300
Atlantic Broadband 492,212 13,523
Total Top Cable 71.97 million 1.31 million
Wireline Phone Companies
AT&T 15.37 million 174,000
Verizon 7.06 million 110,000
CenturyLink/Lumen^ 4.56 million (75,000)
Frontier 3.11 million (23,000)
Windstream 1.10 million 12,900
Consolidated 792,211 1,008
TDS 487,700 8,200
Cincinnati Bell 434,500 2,500
Total Top Telco 32.94 million 210,608
Total Top Broadband 104.92 million 1.53 million

 

Verizon Fios TV Subs Down Nearly 30% Through Nine Months

The pay-TV subscriber hits keep coming.

Verizon Oct. 21 reported that its Fios TV pay-TV service finished the third quarter (ended Sept. 30) with 3.92 million subscribers — down 6.6% from 4.2 million subs in the previous-year period. Through nine months of the fiscal year, Fios TV has jettisoned 277,000 subscribers, or 29.9% from the previous-year period.

Like most pay-TV operators, Verizon has seen an uptick in high-speed Internet subscribers requiring broadband to access over-the-top video services such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Verizon reported 139,000 Fios Internet net additions, an increase from 30,000 Fios Internet net additions in third-quarter 2019, and 144,000 Fios Internet net additions across consumer and business, the most since fourth-quarter 2014.

Broadband subscriptions increased 4.1% to 6.1 million, from 5.9 million during the previous-year period. Through nine months, broadband subs have risen 96.2%, or 208,000 subs, since last year.

Kagan: 37% of Broadband Homes Have Dropped Pay-TV

Pay-TV continues to lose appeal among Internet-connected (broadband) homes in the U.S. New data from Kagan, a unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence, found that 37% of broadband homes have cut the cord with traditional cable, telco or satellite TV distribution. That’s up from 12.5% of broadband homes six years ago.

The percentage of U.S. households without pay-TV service now hovers around 30%. In 2015, there were almost 100 million pay-TV households, a number that dropped to 86 million in 2019.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Notably, the number of broadband-enabled homes has increased 80% from 2019 to 2020 due in large part to house-bound consumers cutting costs during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Given the economic headwinds of the first half, U.S. households likely were looking to cut back on discretionary spending, including entertainment,” analyst Tony Lenoir wrote in a note.

Broadband Added 1.25 Million U.S. Households in Q2; Largest Gain in Eight Years

If there’s a silver lining for pay-TV distributors hemorrhaging video subscribers, it’s high-speed Internet. Linear TV subs dropping service are doing so for alternative home entertainment channels delivered over the Web. To get that distribution requires broadband, which most pay-TV operators deliver.

New data from Leichtman Research Group found that the largest cable and telephone providers in the U.S. — representing about 96% of the market — acquired about 1.24 million net additional broadband Internet subscribers in the second quarter, ended June 30, which was up 233% from a gain of about 375,000 subs in the previous-year period.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

These top broadband providers now account for about 103.3 million subs, with top cable companies having 70.6 million broadband subs, and top wireline phone companies having 32.7 million subs.

Findings for the quarter include:

  • Overall, broadband additions in 2Q 2020 were about 870,000 more than in 2Q 2019;
  •  Broadband additions overall were the most in any quarter since 1Q 2012;
  • The top cable companies added about 1,400,000 subscribers in 2Q 2020 — compared to a net gain of about 530,000 subscribers in 2Q 2019;
  • Cable broadband net additions were the most in any quarter since 1Q 2007;
  • Charter’s 850,000 net adds in 2Q 2020 were more than for any provider in any previous quarter;
  • The top wireline phone companies had a net loss of about 155,000 subscribers in 2Q 2020 — compared to a net loss of about 160,000 subscribers in 2Q 2019.

 

Follow us on Instagram

“With the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there were more quarterly net broadband additions in 2Q, than in any quarter in eight years,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “In the first half of 2020, there were over 2.4 million net broadband additions. This is the most net adds in the first half of any year since 2008.”

Comcast Loses Record 477,000 Pay-TV Subs in Q2, Adds Most Broadband Subs in 13 Years

As expected, Comcast legacy cable pay-TV business represents a widening economic fissure, losing 477,000 pay-TV subscribers in the second quarter, ended June 30. That was more than double the 224,000 video subs lost in the previous-year period. The cable giant has lost more than 1.2 million video subs in the past 12 months as consumers increasingly turn away from linear TV to over-the-top video distribution, including SVOD and AVOD.

Offsetting the video losses is high-speed Internet, which counts Comcast as the largest ISP in the country. With high-speed Internet a prerequisite for OTT video, Comcast had the best second quarter high-speed Internet net adds in 13 years, adding more than 340,000 broadband subscribers compared with 182,000 in the previous-year period. That does not include more than 600,000 free “Internet Essentials” customers that are receive service during the coronavirus pandemic, but were not included in reported results because they do not pay for the access.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Comcast has added more than 1.6 million broadband subscribers in the past 12 months, to end Q2 with 29.4 million subscribers.

“We are optimistic about the runway ahead,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said on the fiscal call.