Survey: TV Households Subscribing to Pay-TV Declines Further

About 75% of TV households in the United States subscribe to pay-TV service (cable, satellite, telecom or online TV). That’s down from 84% five years ago, according to new data from Leichtman Research Group.

Spending on pay-TV services among subscribers is $109.60 per month, an increase of about 6% since 2016. Including non-subscribers, mean spending on pay-TV across all households is about $80 per month, a figure that is slightly lower than the per-household spending in 2015.

These findings are based on a telephone survey of 1,115 domestic households and part of LRG’s seventeenth annual study of pay-TV.

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Other findings include 60% of pay-TV subs have a bundle of services from a provider, compared to 67% in 2014; 83% of adults ages 4-plus have a pay-TV service, compared to 64% of ages 18-44; 87% of households with three or more TVs have a pay-TV service, compared to 75% with two TVs, and 52% with one TV.

The report found 47% of all TV sets in use have a pay-TV providers’ set-top box, marking the first year since 2010 that set-tops have been connected to less than half of all TVs; 27% of TV households have an over-the-air TV antenna, including 53% among pay-TV non-subscribers.

Another 54% of TV households have both a pay-TV service and an SVOD service, 21% only have a pay-TV service, 20% only have an SVOD service, and about 5% have neither pay-TV nor SVOD.

“Three-quarters of households that use a TV currently subscribe to a pay-TV service. This is similar to the total receiving an SVOD service,” Bruce Leichtman, principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, said in a statement. “With more options for watching live and on-demand video, consumers are increasingly choosing to cobble together the services that meet the viewing and economic needs of their household.”

Pay-TV Lost 1.5 Million Subs in Q2

As expected, pay-TV took another beating when it comes to retaining video subscribers.

New data from Leichtman Research Group found that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. — representing about 93% of the market — lost about 1.53 million video subscribers in the second quarter, ended June 30.

The loss was up 264% compared with a net loss of about 420,000 video subs in the previous-year period.

The top pay-TV operators now have about 86.6 million subs — with the top seven cable companies having 46.5 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 27.5 million subs, the top telephone companies 8.8 million subs, and the top publicly reporting online TV services 3.8 million subs.

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Satellite TV services lost about 855,000 subs compared to a loss of about 480,000 subs in 2018. AT&T-owned DirecTV had record losses for the fifth consecutive quarter, while Dish TV had fewer losses than in any quarter since Q4 in 2014.

The top seven cable companies lost about 455,000 video subs compared to a loss of about 275,000 subs in 2018. Cable losses were more than in any quarter since Q2 2014.

The top telephone providers lost about 100,000 video subs compared to a loss of about 45,000 subs in 2018.

Online TV services, Sling TV and DirecTV Now, lost 120,000 subs compared to about 385,000 net adds in 2018.

Over the past year, top pay-TV providers had a net loss of about 5 million subs — compared to a loss of about 1.o6 million subs over the prior year.

Over the past year, DBS services lost about 3.175 subs — compared with a loss of about 1.59 subs over the prior year.

Over the past year, online TV services lost about 340,000 subs — compared to a gain of 1.84 subs over the prior year.

“This marked the fourth consecutive quarter of record pay-TV industry net losses,” principal analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “With an increased focus on acquiring and retaining profitable subscribers, DBS services accounted for more than half of the net pay-TV losses in 2Q 2019, and 63% of the losses over the past year.”

Report: Pay-TV Providers Lost 1.3 Million Subs in Q1

It was a bad quarter for the pay-TV business.

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 1.3 million video subscribers in the first quarter (ended March 31) — up 426% from a net loss of 305,000 subs in the previous-year period.

Pay-TV providers now account for about 87.8 million subscribers — with the top six cable companies having 46.7 million video subscribers, satellite TV services (28.3 million subs), telephone companies (8.9 million), and the top publicly reporting online TV with 3.9 million subs.

Satellite TV services such as Dish Network and DirecTV drove pay-TV losses with about 810,000 subs dropping service compared to a loss of about 375,000 subs in the previous-year period.

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Cable operators lost about 335,000 video subs — compared to a loss of about 285,000 subs last year. Telephone providers lost 105,000 video subs, up from a loss of 50,000 subs last year.  Online TV services lost 75,000 subs, compared to a gain of 405,000 subs last year.

Notably, AT&T had a loss of about 625,000 subs across its three pay-TV services (DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, and DirecTV Now) compared to a gain of 125,000 subscribers in 2018.

“The leading pay-TV provider in the U.S., AT&T, accounted for 47% of the net losses in the quarter,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “[The quarter] was the third consecutive [period] of record pay-TV net losses.  This accelerated downturn in the pay-TV market coincided with the decisions by AT&T and other providers to increasingly focus on long-term profitability when acquiring and retaining subscribers.”

 

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of 1Q 2019 Net Adds in 1Q 2019
Cable Companies
Comcast 21,866,000 (120,000)
Charter 16,461,000 (145,000)
Cox 3,980,000 (35,000)
Altice 3,297,300 (10,200)
Mediacom 764,000 (12,000)
Cable ONE 320,611 (11,500)
Total Top Cable 46,688,911 (333,700)
Satellite Services (DBS)
DirecTV 18,679,000 (543,000)
Dish Network 9,639,000 (266,000)
Total DBS 28,318,000 (809,000)
Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 4,398,000 (53,000)
AT&T U-verse 3,704,000 0
Frontier 784,000 (54,000)
Total Top Phone 8,886,000 (107,000)
Online TV
Sling TV 2,424,000 7,000
DirecTV Now 1,508,000 (83,000)
Total Top Online TV 3,932,000 (76,000)
Total Top Providers 87,824,911 (1,325,700)

 

 

Online TV Growth Slows Despite Record Q3 Pay-TV Subscriber Exodus

The most-recent fiscal quarter (ended Sept. 30) was not a good one for pay-TV operators, which continue to see increasing numbers of subscribers exit for video alternatives online.

Or not.

It was also a wake-up call to multi-video program distributors who think online TV is the answer to fickle pay-TV consumers.

 The cable, satellite and telecom operators lost a combined 1.2 million video subs, ending the quarter at 91 million, including 88.2 million residential customers, according to new data from Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Meanwhile, while many pay-TV subs are becoming cord-cutters, they’re not all migrating to online TV platforms such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue.

Kagan found that online TV services gained an estimated 2.1 million subs in the past nine months – not enough to offset a decline of 2.8 million pay-TV subs.

Indeed,Dish Network-owned Sling TV and DirecTV Now added just 75,000 subs in 3Q, compared to about 530,000 additions in the previous-year period. The additions were the lowest since the market’s launch in 2015.

Satellite had its worst quarter on record with a loss of 726,000 subs, according to Leichtman Research Group. Cable lost nearly 1.1 million subs – the worst performance since 2014.Telco subs fell by 94,000, led by Verizon, which jettisoned 63,000 subs.

Telephone providers lost about 80,000 video subs compared to a loss of 180,000 subs last year. Pay-TV services (excluding online TV) lost 1.05 million subs compared to a loss of about 940,000 subs in 2017.

“This marked the most net losses ever in a quarter for the pay-TV industry,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, said in a statement. “Satellite TV had more combined net losses in than in any previous quarter.  These net losses were largely driven by corporate strategies focused on acquiring and retaining more profitable subscribers.”

Leichtman attributed some of the online TV sub growth slowdown to corporate parents’ emphasis on improving the profitability of the Internet-delivered flanker brands.

“[This] reduced net quarterly adds in the segment, resulting in [online TV] not helping to mitigate overall pay-TV losses to the degree they had in recent quarters,” he said.

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of 3Q 2018 Net Adds in 3Q 2018
Cable Companies
Comcast 22,015,000 (106,000)
Charter 16,628,000 (54,000)
Cox* 4,035,000 (30,000)
Altice 3,322,800 (28,100)
Mediacom 793,000 (15,000)
Cable ONE 328,921 (11,191)
Total Top Cable 47,122,721 (244,291)
Satellite Services (DBS)
DIRECTV 19,625,000 (359,000)
DISH TV 10,286,000 (367,000)
Total DBS 29,911,000 (726,000)
Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 4,497,000 (63,000)
AT&T U-verse 3,693,000 13,000
Frontier 873,000 (29,000)
Total Top Phone 9,063,000 (79,000)
Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
Sling TV^ 2,370,000 26,000
DIRECTV NOW 1,858,000 49,000
Total Top vMVPD^ 4,228,000 75,000
Total Top Providers 90,324,721 (974,291)

 

 

Pay-TV Q2 Sub Loss Lowest Since 2014

Pay-TV operators, including cable, satellite and telecom, lost about 800,000 video subscribers in the second quarter – down from 930,000 subs in the previous-year period, according to new data from the Leichtman Research Group.

The losses were offset by ongoing gains in online TV services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now and Spectrum TV Plus, which totaled 385,000 subs.

Leichtman found that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. – representing about 95% of the market – lost about 415,000 net video subs in Q2.

Specifically, satellite operators Dish Network and DirecTV shed 480,000 subs – the largest in any previous quarter.

The top six cable companies lost about 275,000 video subs compared to a loss about 190,000 subs in Q2 2017.

Telecoms lost about 45,000 video subs, compared to a loss of 270,000 subs last year.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 91.3 million subscribers – with the top six cable companies having 47.4 million video subs, satellite TV services 30.6 million subs, the top telecoms 9.1 million subs.

Online TV services Sling TV and DirecTV Now have 4.2 million combined subs.

“This marked the fewest net losses [among pay-TV operators] in the traditionally weak second quarter since 2014,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, said in a statement.

Leichtman said the rise in online TV is both a product of consumers opting for more economical services, as well as changes in providers’ strategies.

“This newer segment of the industry has helped to mitigate overall pay-TV losses, while also contributing to a share shift from traditional services,” he said.