Pay-TV Operators Lost Nearly 1.5 Million Subs in 2017

Domestic pay-TV representing about 95% of the market lost about 1.49 million net video subscribers in 2017, compared to a pro forma loss of about 760,000 subscribers in 2016, according to new data from Leichtman Research Group. Traditional pay-TV services (not including Internet-delivered) lost about 3 million subs in 2017, compared to a loss of about 1.9 million subs in 2016.

The pay-TV providers account for 92.2 million subscribers — with the top six cable companies having about 48.1 million video subs, satellite TV services 31.5 million subscribers, telecoms 9.2 million subs, and online TV platforms with 3.4 million subscribers.

Leichtman said the top six cable companies lost about 660,000 video subs compared to a loss of 275,000 subs in 2016.

In 2017, the top cable providers cumulatively lost 1.4% of video subscribers — compared to a loss of 0.6% in 2016. Satellite TV services lost about 1.55 million subs in 2017 — compared to a loss of about 40,000 subs in 2016. DirecTV lost 554,000 subs compared to a gain of 1.22 million subs in 2016.

In 2017, DBS services cumulatively lost 4.7% of video subscribers — compared to a loss 0.1% in 2016

The top telephone providers lost about 885,000 video subscribers in 2017 — compared to a loss of about 1.59 million subs. AT&T U-verse lost 624,000 subs in 2017, compared to a loss of 1.35 million subs.

In 2017, the top Telcos cumulatively lost 8.7% of video subs, compared to a loss of 13.6% in 2016. The top (publicly reporting) Internet-delivered services added about 1.6 million subs in 2017, compared to 1.14 million net adds in 2016.

Subscribers to the top Internet-delivered services increased by 90% in 2017.

“Satellite TV services had more combined net losses in 2017 than in any previous year, yet these losses were offset by gains from their Internet-delivered flanker brands, such as DirecTV Now and Sling TV,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “Overall, the top pay-TV services lost 1.6% of subscribers in 2017 compared to a loss of 0.8% in 2016.”

 

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at
End of 4Q 2017
Net Adds in
2017
Cable Companies
Comcast 22,357,000 (151,000)
Charter 16,997,000 (239,000)
Altice 3,405,500 (129,000)
Mediacom 821,000 (14,000)
Cable ONE* 283,001 (37,245)
Other major private company** 4,200,000 (90,000)
Total Top Cable 48,063,501 (660,245)
Satellite Services (DBS)
DIRECTV 20,458,000 (554,000)
DISH TV^ 11,030,000 (995,000)
Total DBS 31,488,000 (1,549,000)
Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 4,619,000 (75,000)
AT&T U-verse 3,657,000 (624,000)
Frontier 961,000 (184,000)
Total Top Phone 9,237,000 (883,000)
Internet-Delivered
Sling TV^^ 2,212,000 711,000
DIRECTV NOW 1,155,000 888,000
Total Top Internet-Delivered 3,367,000 1,599,000
Total Top Providers 92,155,501 (1,493,245)

Sling TV Gets New Ad Agency, Bows New Marketing Campaign

Sling TV March 12 announced it has a new ad agency of record – underscoring concern its TV spots with tough guy actor Danny Trejo could be over.

Indeed, Dish Network’s pioneering online TV service with more than 2 million subscribers bowed a new multimedia marketing campaign, “We Are Slingers,” positioning Sling TV as a flexible live streaming service providing more choice and control than any other over-the-top (OTT) provider.

“Slinging is about breaking norms and connecting people with TV that satisfies through choice and control at a reasonable price; it’s a way of life,” Colleen Sugarman, head of marketing at Sling TV, said in a statement.

In addition to the commercials, elements of the campaign include a dedicated landing page, a new look and feel for the sling.com homepage, digital, mobile, new media and out-of-home ads, paid and organic social posts, YouTube videos, pre-roll and OTT video ads, paid search, in-device promotions on Sling TV supported devices and other direct-to-consumer promotions.

Additional spots will roll out to the general market in the coming months.

“We’re competing for attention not just with our client’s competitors, but with everything people are consuming as content,” said Karen Costello, chief creative officer at The Martin Agency. “The cheeky misdirect and play on the name is super sticky and a great way for Sling TV to be part of the conversation about TV ‘lifestyle’ viewing options.”

Sugarman said Sling TV needed an agency that could help inform consumers how the platform is the best way to watch live TV.

“The Martin Agency’s strong history of navigating highly competitive industries to successfully deliver for their clients made them the ideal choice,” she said.

Sling’s previous ad spots – created by media/digital network Society – focused on Trejo, whose lengthy career as TV and movie villain was underscored in a short but memorable role in “Breaking Bad,” threatening anyone who didn’t break from pay-TV.

 

Sling TV Bows Referral Program

Dish Network’s pioneering online TV service Sling TV March 8 announced a campaign whereby subscribers can get $5 off their $20 monthly fee when referring the service to a friend.

The promotion enables both the subscriber and referral to get $5 off their subscriptions for 90 days after the referral opens a paid Sling TV account.

To refer a friend, go to sling.com and click on the “Get $15” button to send an email to the friend, or use the link to share on social media or via text message.

After a 7-day free trial, if the referral continues to subscribe to Sling TV, the $5 discount will be applied to both Sling TV monthly bills. One $5 discount is applicable per monthly billing cycle up to 12 months. Multiple discounts cannot be combined within the same billing cycle.

Sling TV ended the most-recent fiscal period with more than 2 million subscribers.

 

Sling TV Tops 2.2 Million Subscribers

Dish Network Feb. 21 announced that its Sling TV unit ended 2017 with more than 2.21 million subscribers – up 47% from 1.5 million subs at the end of 2016.

Launched in early 2015, Sling TV was the first standalone online TV service, offering access to 20 pay-TV channels priced from $20 monthly without a contract.

The service was the first to offer ESPN outside the pay-TV ecosystem. The concept was so new (Disney licensed ESPN as an experiment) that a blank screen aired during commercial breaks – underscoring marketers’ unfamiliarity with the distribution channel.

Today, online TV represents an alternative to cord-cutters and ongoing erosion of pay-TV households in the Netflix-fueled, over-the-top video era.

Other online TV platforms include PlayStation Vue ($40-$75), DirecTV Now ($35-$70), Spectrum TV Plus ($30), YouTube TV ($40), Hulu With Live TV ($40), FuboTV ($45) and Philo TV ($16).

 

Dish Bows Hopper Duo Smart DVR

Dish Network Jan. 22 released Hopper Duo, a dual-tuner HD set-top DVR for one- and two-TV households.

The average number of pay-TV set-top boxes per household in the United States is 1.7, according to a recent study by Leichtman Research Group.

Hopper Duo supports a second HDTV when paired with a Joey (Joey, 4K Joey or Wireless Joey). With two tuners, Hopper Duo customers can watch or record two live programs simultaneously. If a customer is recording two live shows, they can still watch previously recorded titles from their DVR or anything from the OnDemand catalog.

The Wi-Fi-capable Hopper Duo includes a modern user interface with HD graphics and easy content discovery; a 500 GB hard drive for up to 125 hours of HD DVR recording; compatibility with Amazon Alexa voice control; universal search; Bluetooth audio support via adapter; Picture-in-Picture viewing; Remote Finder; and apps like Game Finder, Pandora and DISH On-Demand, with Netflix coming soon.

The device ships with DISH’s new voice remote.

“The average U.S.home has about two TVs connected to a pay-TV service,” Niraj Desai, VP of product management, said in a statement. “Hopper Duo is a feature-rich, high-value product for households that want DVR capacity for [up to] two screens.”

Beginning today, qualified new and existing customers can receive a Hopper Duo at no upfront cost. The Hopper Duo system requires a whole-home DVR fee of $10 per month, with an additional $7 per month required for an added Joey.