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)

 

 

Cox Adds Amazon Prime Video Access to Contour

Cox Communications has added access to Amazon Prime Video for its Contour customers, according to a Cox press release.

By simply saying “Amazon Prime Video” or “Prime Video” into their Contour voice remote, customers can watch Amazon Originals such as “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “Hanna,” ‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan,” “Guava Island,” “Homecoming” and “The Man in the High Castle,” as well as other Amazon Prime content.

“When it’s time to enjoy your favorite streaming content, just say the word and we’ll serve it up on your screen. It has never been easier to find and enjoy favorite TV shows, movies and video clips all in one place,” said Kevin Hart, EVP and chief product and technology officer for Cox in a statement. “We’ve removed the complexity that comes with toggling, switching inputs or the necessity of watching on a smaller screen. Now all you have to do is say the name of your favorite Prime Video show or movie into your Contour remote and it will appear on your TV.”

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“Prime Video is committed to making our customers’ favorite shows, movies and live sports effortless to watch,” said Andrew Bennett, head of worldwide business development for Prime Video in a statement. “Bringing the Prime Video app to Contour gives our Prime members even more ways to stream Amazon Originals including the upcoming launches of Good Omens and Chasing Happiness, the Jonas Brothers’ documentary.”

The Contour voice remote also allows customers access to the series page by saying the name of the series.

In addition to Amazon Prime, Contour customers can use the voice remote to pull up live TV content, recorded DVR content, Netflix content and YouTube content.

Tubi AVOD Service Available on Cox

Tubi March 29 announced the launch its ad-supported VOD service on Cox Contour giving the pay-TV operator’s subscribers free access to more than 12,000 movies and television series.

Cox subs are able to watch movies such as Up in the Air starring George Clooney and Anna Kendrick and Rango starring Johnny Depp and Isla Fisher, as well as TV series such as “Xena: Warrior Princess,” “The A-Team,” “Major Dad,” “Dog the Bounty Hunter” and “Alf,” among others

In addition, starting April 1, Contour subs will be able to access first seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” “Trista and Ryan’s Wedding Special,” and the co-co nuts fifth season of “Bachelor in Paradise.”

“Our partnership with Cox expands upon our mission to make entertainment accessible to everyone,” Farhad Massoudi, CEO of Tubi, said in a statement. “With the addition of Cox Contour, Tubi will continue to have the widest distribution of any ad-supported streaming service.”

San Francisco-based Tubi claims to be one of the most-watched apps on the world’s largest platforms, including Amazon Fire TV, Roku, and Android, among others.

Tubi’s partnership with Cox Contour marks its second MVPD deal after Comcast Xfinity X1, and remains the only AVOD streaming service with distribution as a standalone app.

Cox Contour’s library of apps also includes Netflix, YouTube, YouTube Kids, iHeartRadio and NPR One, as well as a sports app that shows live stats and scores on the TV screen.

 

 

Cox Adds YouTube to Online TV Service

Cable pay-TV operator Cox Communications reportedly has begun offering access to YouTube (including YouTube Channels) on its upstart “Contour” online TV service. The cabler recently incorporated direct-access to Netflix subscribers as well.

Contour, which is available in pay-TV channel bundles priced from $59.99 monthly is powered by Comcast’s broadband-based X1 platform. Contour features include a voice remote, which allows customers to change channels, find shows, get recommendations and launch apps by simply using voice commands.

The TV app offers personalized news, weather and traffic, including a sports app which shows stats and scores on the TV screen without interrupting the game. The cloud-based Contour interface is available in-home and on a mobile app which allows viewing on mobile devices both in and outside the home.

 

 

AT&T/DOJ Judge Tells Lawyers to Speed Up Proceedings

The federal judge in the Justice Department’s antitrust case against the $85 billion AT&T/Time Warner merger reportedly told lawyers for both sides to up their tempo or risk missing the extended June 21 deadline to consummate the deal.

If the merger is denied by regulators, AT&T would have to pay Time Warner $500 million for its efforts. If the media company backs out, it would be on the hook to AT&T for $1.7 billion.

“Both sides need to sit down with their clients and their teams and make sure they have down what they need versus what they want,” U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon said March 28, as reported by Reuters. “If we are going to get this done prior to that date, we have to move.”

The trial in Washington, D.C., which is in its first week, is slated to last six to eight weeks.

The DOJ contends the merger would be harmful to consumers, with AT&T leveraging third-party access to Time Warner assets HBO, Turner (TBS, TNT, CNN) and Warner Bros. for its own DirecTV platforms.

On the stand, John Martin, CEO of Turner, denied any content would be withheld from distributors following the merger.

“I would like every distributor to carry every network I have and carry it at 100% penetration,” Martin said in cross-examination by AT&T lawyer Daniel Petrocelli.

Later, Petrocelli grilled Marty Hinson, marketing strategy and intelligence with Cox Communications, regarding his testimony that Cox subscribers would pay more for content if AT&T acquired Time Warner.

Hinson admitted he had no direct knowledge or had seen any documentation supporting the allegation.

Petrocelli in 1997 successfully prosecuted O.J. Simpson in the wrongful death civil suit involving his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.