Leichtman: Pay-TV Lost 5.9 Million Subs as Broadband Customer Growth Cooled in 2022

U.S. pay-TV operators continue to hemorrhage subscribers as high-speed internet service subscribers also dropped, failing to fill the gap.

New data from Leichtman Research Group found that 5.9 million pay-TV subscribers discontinued service in 2022, up from 4.7 million discontinuing subs in 2021. At the same time, the number of new high-speed (or broadband) subscribers declined to 3.5 million, compared with 3.75 million new subs in 2021.

Comcast Cable led all operators with 2 million pay-TV sub losses, while Charter Communications (Spectrum) added the most broadband subs at 350,000.

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The top pay-TV providers now account for about 70.2 million subscribers — with the top seven cable companies having about 37.8 million video subscribers, other legacy pay-TV services having 24.1 million subs, and online TV services accounting for about 8.3 million combined subs.

“Fixed wireless services accounted for 90% of the net broadband additions in 2022, compared to 20% of the net adds in 2021,” analyst Brice Leichtman said in a statement. “Total broadband net adds in 2022 were slightly lower than the previous year, and down from about 5 million in 2020, but were more than in any year from 2012-2019.”

Comcast 16.1 million total subs end of 2022 (2,034,000) decline
Charter 15.1 million (686,000)
Cox 3 million (340,000)
Altice 2.4 million (293,300)
Mediacom 510,000 (62,000)
Breezeline 309,627 (37,102)
Cable One 181,500 (79,500)

 

Comcast 32.15 million total broadband subscribers 250,000 additions
Charter 30.43 million 344,000
Cox 5.56 million 30,000
Altice 4.28 million (103,300) decline
Mediacom 1.46 million 5,000
Cable One 1.06 million 14,400
Breezeline 693,781 (22,997)

Comcast Lost 512,000 Q1 Video Subs, Broadband Sub Growth Down 43%

Comcast Cable April 28 reported a first-quarter (ended March 31) net loss of 512,000 pay-TV subscribers, up more than 4% from a net loss of 491,000 video subs in the prior-year period. The cable giant ended the period with 17.6 million video subs, down almost 1.7 million subs from last year.

The sub loss reflects the ongoing consumer transition from pay-TV to alternative channels, including subscription VOD and ad-supported VOD streaming. That said, high-speed internet, a prerequisite to stream video in the home, saw subscriber growth cool for the first time in several quarters.

Comcast said it gained 262,000 broadband subs in the quarter, which was down 43% from a sub gain of 461,000 in the prior-year period. The company ended the period with 32.1 million high-speed internet subs, up from 31 million last year.

The company said the silver lining in the sub growth slowdown underscored the fact that the fiscal period produced the “highest level of customer retention on record for any quarter.”

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Comcast also lost 282,000 telephone subscribers, up from a loss of 106,000 subs in 2021. Total voice subs topped 10.1 million, down from 10.8 million last year.

Video revenue decreased 1.5%, reflecting a decrease in the number of residential video customers, partially offset by an increase in average rates. Voice revenue decreased 9.8%, primarily reflecting a decrease in the number of residential voice customers.

The best thing CEO Brian Roberts could say about the cable business was that Comcast was increasing broadband capacity.

“We are providing our customers with cutting-edge equipment that delivers the best in-home experience,” Roberts said in a statement.