Data: Pay-TV Providers in Q2 Lost 1.2 Million Video Subs, Added 890K Broadband

As pay-TV operators continue to hemorrhage video subscribers to over-the-top video, losses are being offset by broadband service additions — a requisite for streaming video distribution.

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 1.2 million net video subs in 2Q 2021, compared with a net loss of about 1.5 million subs in the previous-year period.

Pay-TV operators added 890,000 net broadband internet subscribers in the quarter; 8 million net adds over the past two years.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

The top pay-TV providers account for about 77.6 million subs — with the top seven cable companies having 42.6 million video subs, other traditional pay-TV services having about 28.2 million subs, and the top publicly reporting online TV services having about 6.8 million subs.

Leichtman found that the top cable providers had a net loss of about 590,000 video subs in 2Q 2021 — compared to a loss of about 505,000 subs in 2Q 2020. Other traditional pay-TV services had a net loss of about 700,000 subs in 2Q 2021 — compared with a loss of about 1,045,000 subs in 2Q 2020.

AT&T led all pay-TV services with 473,000 net sub loss, an improvement compared with 887,000 net losses in 2Q 2020. Online TV services, led by Sling TV, YouTube TV and Hulu + Live TV, added 55,000 subs, compared to a gain of about 45,000 subs last year.

“Pay-TV net losses were about 275,000 fewer than [last year] on a pro forma basis,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “Over the past year, pay-TV providers had a net loss of about 4.52 million subs, compared to a loss of about 5.4over the prior year.”

Separately, Leichtman said the quarterly broadband additions were the most in any second quarter in the past decade, except for 2Q 2020.

“Pay-TV operators have added about 3.67 million net broadband adds over the prior year,” he said.

Analyst: North American Pay-TV Subs Dropping to 74 Million by 2026

The rise in over-the-top video consumption continues to undermine the pay-TV ecosystem. New data from Digital TV Research projects the number of pay-TV subscribers in Canada and the U.S. will fall by 43 million, from 116 million in 2010 to 74 million in 2026. The U.S. will lose 41 million subs, with Canada losing nearly 2 million.

The number of pay-TV subscribers plummeted by 27 million between 2010 and 2020, down by 6 million in both 2019 and 2020. Household pay-TV penetration will drop from 90.5% in 2010 to 53.6% by 2026. Revenue peaked in 2015 at $111 billion, falling by $49 billion to $62 billion in 2026.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

That said, the bloodletting appears to be over as subscriber levels decline, according to analyst Simon Murray.

“The worst of the cord-cutting is over,” Murray said. “Declines will be lower from 2021, falling by 16 million in total between 2020 and 2026.”

Murray contends “only” 5 million cable TV subscribers will be lost, while satellite TV declines by 7.5 million. Online TV will jettison 3.4 million subscribers.


Charter Spectrum Added Pay-TV Subs in 2020

In a trend reversal, Charter Communications Jan. 29 announced it added 19,000 residential video customers in 2020, compared with a decline of 484,000 subs in 2019. Residential video customers decreased by 66,000 in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, while fourth-quarter 2019 residential video customers decreased by 105,000.

Charter ended the year with 16.2 million Spectrum video subs, up from 16.14 million subs in 2019.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Charter CEO Tom Rutledge

Similarly to other pay-TV operators, Charter is a major high-speed Internet provider, the lifeline to delivering burgeoning over-the-top video consumption in subscriber homes. The company said it ended 2020 with 28.9 million residential and business Internet subscribers, with 2.2 million subs added in 2020 versus 1.4 million added in 2019. Charter added 246,000 broadband subs in the fourth quarter compared to 339,000 during the fourth quarter of 2019.

“Our 2020 performance demonstrates that our customer-friendly operating strategy works well for Charter communities, employees and shareholders, even in challenging economic and operating
environments,” CEO Tom Rutledge said in a statement.

Charter in 2015 was one of the first providers to offer broadband-only subscribers an online TV platform — Spectrum TV Plus — that afforded users access to premium channels for $20 monthly and a free Roku player.

U.S. Pay-TV Operators Cut Q3 Sub Loss by 50%

The bleeding continues for pay-TV operators in the U.S. — but at a reduced rate. New data from informitv contends the top 10 domestic pay-TV operators lost a combined 860,000 subscribers in the third-quarter (ended Sept. 30). The sector lost 1.67 million subs during the previous-year period.

Through nine months of the fiscal year, pay-TV operators have lost a combined 4.72 million subscribers, leaving the market at around 72.28 million subs. That’s an 8.2% drop from last year when the market had 78.73 million subs.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

“The rate of television subscriber decline in the United States has reduced since the first quarter of 2020, when the top 10 services had combined losses of 2.33 million,” observed Dr. William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index. “There is still a secular decline in this mature market, but it is important to remember that six out of ten television homes in the United States still subscribe to one of these services.”

Excluding Cox Communications, which does not report subscriber data, Comcast Cable lost 253,000 subs, compared with a loss of 427,000 the previous-year quarter. AT&T jettisoned 627,000 subs across its satellite (DirecTV), telco and online television (AT&T TV) platforms, compared with a loss of 952,000 last year.

Charter added 53,000 subs — about half of the 102,000 sub additions in the previous quarter. Dish Network lost 57,000 subs, while adding 203,000 Sling TV subs. Verizon lost 61,000 Fios TV subs. Altice USA lost 67,800 subs, while Mediacom and Frontier lost 13,000 and 42,000 subs, respectively.


Sling TV Q3 Sub Growth Cools; Dish TV Sub Loss Increases

Dish Network Nov. 6 said it added 203,000 Sling TV subscribers during the three months ended Sept. 30, down 5.2% from the addition of 214,000 subs during the same period in 2019. This decrease in sub additions was primarily related to lower Sling TV activations, increased competition, including competition from other SVOD and live-linear OTT service providers, and delays and cancellations of sporting events as a result of COVID-19.

Dish ended the quarter with 2.46 million Sling TV subs, which is down 8.6% from 2.69 million subs a year ago.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

At the same time, Dish lost 87,000 legacy pay-TV subscribers, 32% more than a sub loss of 66,000 last year. This increase in subscriber losses primarily resulted from lower Dish subscriber activations, partially offset by a lower churn rate.

The Colorado-based satellite TV operator ended the period with just 8.96 million pay-TV subs, down almost 6% from 9.49 million subs the same time last year.

Report: U.S. Pay-TV Sub Loss Increased 18% in Q2

With the migration of pay-TV subscribers to alternative (i.e. streaming) home entertainment channels ongoing, the number of U.S. linear TV subscribers dropping service increased 18% to 1.57 million in the second quarter, ended June 30, according to new data from Leichtman Research Group.

The Durham, N.H.-based firm found that while the Q2 sub loss was almost 24% less than in the 2.06 million lost in Q1, it surpassed the 1.33 million shed in the second quarter of 2019.

The top pay-TV providers account for 82.4 million subs — with the top seven cable companies having 44.7 million video subs, satellite TV services 23.3 million subs, the top telephone companies 8 million subs, and the top publicly reporting online pay-TV services generating 6.4 million subs.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Key findings for the quarter include:

  • Satellite TV services lost about 885,000 subs in 2Q 2020 — compared with a loss of about 860,000 subs in 2Q 2019;
  • The top seven cable companies lost about 500,000 video subs in 2Q 2020 — compared with a loss of about 455,000 subs in 2Q 2019;
  • The top telecom providers lost about 160,000 video subs in 2Q 2020 — compared with a loss of about 95,000 subs in 2Q 2019;
  • The top publicly reporting online TV services (Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, and AT&T TV Now) lost about 25,000 subs in 2Q 2020 — compared to about 80,000 net adds in 2Q 2019;
  • Charter Communication’s Spectrum platform bucked the trend, adding about 100,000 pay-TV subs.


Follow us on Instagram

“This quarter marked the sixth consecutive quarter with over 1 million pay-TV net losses; still these losses were about a half million fewer than in 1Q 2020,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “The pay-TV industry as a whole continues to rapidly lose subscribers.  However, the wide disparity in performance among top providers in the quarter demonstrates the significance of individual corporate strategies.”

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of 2Q 2020 Net Adds in 2Q 2020
Cable Companies
Comcast 20,367,000 (478,000)
Charter 16,168,000 94,000
Cox* 3,770,000 (50,000)
Altice 3,102,900 (34,600)
Mediacom 676,000 (17,000)
Atlantic Broadband** 311,845 (2,800)
Cable One 290,000 (13,000)
Total Top Cable 44,685,745 (501,400)
Satellite Services (DBS)
DIRECTV^ 14,290,000 (846,000)
DISH TV^^ 9,017,000 (40,000)
Total DBS 23,307,000 (886,000)
Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 4,062,000 (83,000)
AT&T U-verse^ 3,400,000 (40,000)
Frontier*** 560,000 (34,000)
Total Top Phone 8,022,000 (157,000)
Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
Hulu + Live TV 3,400,000 100,000
Sling TV 2,255,000 (56,000)
AT&T TV NOW 720,000 (68,000)
Total Top vMVPD 6,375,000 (24,000)
Total Top Providers 82,389,745 (1,568,400)

Roku Says Nearly 1 in 3 U.S. TV Households Have Cut the Cord

Roku July 21 reported that about 32% of U.S. TV households do not have a traditional pay-TV subscription (cable, satellite, telecom), while another 25% of households identified as “cord shavers” scaled back their service during the coronavirus pandemic. When asked about the intent to drop pay-TV in the next six months, 45% of the latter households said they were likely to do so.

Citing data from separate surveys of 7,000 Americans ages 18 and over in March, followed by 2,000 Americans ages 18 and over in May to understand changes amidst the pandemic, Roku found primary drivers for pay-TV termination to be the pandemic and lack of live sports.

“While we entered 2020 with significant momentum around cord cutting, we’re now seeing that the pandemic and the pause of live sports has caused consumers to rethink how they access home entertainment and what they are willing to pay,” Matthew Anderson, chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

Anderson said the abundance of free ad-supported VOD content, free trials to low-cost are contributing to a redo in home entertainment consumption.

Survey respondents said they saved about $75 per month dropping pay-TV, with some of the saving earmarked for SVOD services.

“The vast majority of [respondents] agreed that they are satisfied with their decision and wish they had cut their pay-TV service earlier,” Anderson said.

Value is an important factor in driving cord cutting. Nearly half of all U.S. TV household respondents said they have been watching more, free ad-supported TV during the COVID-19 pandemic than they did before. In addition, 40% of recent households that dropped pay-TV said that access to free trials and extended free trials to premium subscription services helped convince them to cut traditional pay TV service.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Roku, which helped Netflix launch the subscription streaming video-on-demand market in 2007, offers a platform for third-party SVOD services, in addition to The Roku Channel branded AVOD platform.

Roku found less than 20% of cord-cutting households said they would re-subscribe to pay-TV when live sports returns. Instead, 31% said they were likely to subscribe to a live sports streaming service, such as ESPN+ and fubo TV. More than half (52%) of traditional and “cord shaver” households said they are likely to reduce their pay-TV package if televised live sports does not return.

Ampere: ‘Low-Level’ Pay-TV Sub Growth Continues Despite Rampant Cord-Cutting

With U.S. pay-TV operators shedding more than 2 million subscribers in the first quarter, new data from Ampere Analysis finds that worldwide pay-TV continues to grow — albeit slowly.

In a study representing 70 pay-TV operators representing about half of the world’s 1 billion pay-TV subs, subscriber totals increased 0.3% in Q1 than in Q4 2019, indicating that despite the challenging times facing the pay-TV business, and the threats from online competition, there is still at least some low-level growth — when including China.

When removing Chinese market leaders — China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom — there was a net decline of 0.7% in the quarter. This is an acceleration from the 0.5% decline seen in Q4 2019, and indicative of a worsening outlook for the pay-TV market outside China.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Of the 70 companies followed, 42% saw growth in the quarter, with positive net additions of nearly 5 million subscribers. This was partially offset by the remaining 58%, which lost a total of nearly 3 million subs. The net effect was a growth of just under 2 million pay-TV subscribers in the quarter, according to Ampere.

Again, however, China continues to have a significant role in keeping the global pay-TV market buoyant. Outside mainland China, pay-TV operators in the rest of the world lost nearly 1.7 million net subs.

In fact, the trend outside China is worsening. In the same period 2019, the same group of companies lost 1.2 million net subs.

While U.S. cable and telecoms groups such as Verizon and Comcast saw significant net declines in subscriber numbers, they have been less badly hit by cord-cutting than their satellite rivals, including DirecTV and Dish Network.

Follow us on Instagram

“Of the bellwether pay TV operators we’re tracking, U.S. groups represent more than half of those firms suffering net subscriber declines,” senior analyst Toby Holleran said in a statement. “But losses aren’t evenly distributed even here — IPTV and cable firms have shown more resilience as a consequence of their ability to better bundle communications and pay TV together, insulating themselves against the worst effects of cord-cutting.”

Pay-TV Lost Record 2 Million Subs in Q1

Another financial quarter, another 90 days of pain for the pay-TV market. The largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. — representing about 95% of the market — lost more than 2 million video subscribers in the quarter ended March 31, compared with a net loss of about 1 million subs in the same period last year, according to new data from Leichtman Research Group.

The top pay-TV providers account for 83.9 million subs — with the top seven cable companies having 45.2 million video subs, satellite TV services 24.1 million subs, the telephone companies 8.2 million subs, and Internet-delivered pay-TV services with 6.4 million subs.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Satellite TV services lost about 1 million subs compared to a loss of about 810,000 subs last year. The top seven cable companies lost about 595,000 video subs compared 335,000 subs.

The top telecoms lost about 125,000 video subs compared to a loss of about 105,000 subs in Q1 2019. The top online TV services (Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, and AT&T TV Now) lost about 320,000 subs compared to about 225,000 net adds in 1Q 2019

Follow us on Instagram

“The record net losses were partly related to the impact of the coronavirus, but do not solely reflect consumers’ dropping services,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “Several providers cited a decrease in connects as a key component of net losses in the quarter, rather than an increase in disconnects.”

Pay-TV Pandemic: Record 2.33 Million Subs Lost in Q1

The steady drip of pay-TV subscriber losses has turned into a broken water main. New data from informitv finds that U.S. distributors lost a combined 2.33 million subscribers in the fiscal period ended March 31.

Pay-TV operators’ combined sub count fell below 75 million, down from 84 million during the same period in 2018. AT&T suffered the biggest losses, shedding 897,000 subscribers and an additional 135,000 AT&T TV Now subs, for a combined loss of over a million.

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Dish Network ended the quarter with 382,000 fewer satellite subs and 281,000 fewer for its Sling TV online television service. Comcast Cable lost 388,000 subs. It was its twelfth consecutive quarterly sub loss, with its total falling below 20 million for the first time in almost two decades.

Verizon Fios TV subs declined by 84,000, marking 13 consecutive quarterly falls, taking it down to 4.07 million, from a high of 5.86 million four years previously. Charter Spectrum lost 70,000 television subs, marking its ninth consecutive quarterly loss, down by over 400,000 in twelve months to 15.55 million.

Follow us on Instagram

Altice, Mediacom and Frontier lost 97,700 television subs combined in the quarter, and a total of 372,600 over twelve months.

“This is the largest quarterly loss of television subscribers in the United States we have reported to date,” Dr. William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index, said in a statement. “The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to this, but many service providers have been losing subscribers for some time. Notably, their newer online services are now no exception to this trend.”

The top 10 services for the United States in the Multiscreen Index now have 74.65 million television customers between them, accounting for 62% of television homes. Subscriber numbers are as reported by service providers, rather than analyst estimates. Cox Communications is not included in the top 10 as it does not report sub numbers.

“It is difficult to determine how far these [sub] losses can be attributed to economic conditions and how much to an accelerating long-term structural decline,” added analyst Dr. Sue Farrell.