Leichtman: Pay-TV Providers Lost More Than 2.2 Million Subscribers in Q1

The first three months of 2023 have not been good for the legacy pay-TV market. New data from Leichtman Research Group found that the largest pay-TV providers in the United States — representing about 96% of the market — lost about 2.22 billion net video subscribers in the first quarter of 2023, compared with a pro forma net loss of about 1.85 billion in Q1 2022.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 73.7 million subs — with the top seven cable companies having about 36.8 million video subs, other traditional pay-TV services having 23.4 million subs, and the top online pay-TV services (now including an estimate for YouTube TV) having about 13.5 million subs.

Top cable providers had a net loss of more than 1 million video subscribers in Q1 2023 — compared with a loss of about 825,000 subscribers in Q1 2022. Other traditional pay-TV services had a net loss of about 760,000 subs in Q1 2023 — compared with a loss of about 625,000 subs in Q1 2022.

Top online TV services had a net loss of about 395,000 subs in Q1 2023 — compared to a loss of about 400,000 subs in Q1 2022.

“Pay-TV net losses of about 2.2 million in Q1 2023 were more than in any previous quarter,” analyst Bruce Leichtman said in a statement. “Similarly to recent quarters, the record net losses appear to be as much a function of a slowdown in new connects as an increase in disconnects.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of 1Q 2023 Net Adds in 1Q 2023
Cable Companies
Comcast 15,528,000 (614,000)
Charter 14,906,000 (241,000)
Altice 2,475,800 (60,500)
Breezeline 300,684 (8,943)
Cable One 167,000 (14,500)
Other major private companies 3,440,000 (120,000)
Total Top Cable 36,817,484 (1,058,943)
Other Traditional Services
DirecTV 12,750,000 (350,000)
Dish TV (DBS) 7,098,000 (318,000)
Verizon Fios (Telco) 3,225,000 (76,000)
Frontier (Telco) 288,000 (18,000)
Total Top Other Traditional 23,361,000 (762,000)
Online TV
YouTube TV 5,700,000 100,000
Hulu + Live TV 4,400,000 (100,000)
Sling TV 2,100,000 (234,000)
Fubo 1,285,000 (160,000)
Total Top Online TV 13,485,000 (394,000)
Total Top Providers 73,663,484 (2,214,943)

Major Pay-TV Providers Upped Q2 Subscriber Losses 56% to More Than 1.92 Million

The nation’s largest pay-TV providers — representing about 92% of the market — lost about 1.92 million net video subscribers in the second quarter (ended June 30) compared with a net loss of 1.23 million in the previous-year period, according to data from Leichtman Research Group.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 72.2 million subscribers — with the top seven cable companies having about 39.5 million video subs, other traditional pay-TV services having about 25.5 million subs, and the top publicly reporting online TV services having about 7.2 million subs.

Leichtman found that the top cable providers had a net loss of about 950,000 video subs in Q2 compared with a loss of about 590,000 subs in Q2 2021. Other pay-TV services had a net loss of about 710,000 subs, compared with a loss of about 700,000 subs in Q2 2021.

Online TV services had a net loss of about 265,000 subs in Q2, compared with a gain of about 55,000 subs last year.

“The second quarter of 2022 marked the second-consecutive quarter with over 1.9 million net pay-TV losses,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst, said in a statement. “Over the past year, top pay-TV providers had a net loss of about 5,425,000 subs, compared to a net loss of about 4,550,000 subs over the prior year.”

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of 2Q 2022 Net Adds in 2Q 2022
Cable Companies
Comcast 17,144,000 (520,000)
Charter 15,495,000 (226,000)
Cox* 3,230,000 (80,000)
Altice 2,574,200 (84,500)
Mediacom 540,000 (15,000)
Breezeline 332,312 (6,709)
Cable One 221,000 (17,000)
Total Top Cable 39,536,512 (949,209)
Other Traditional Services
DIRECTV^ 13,900,000 (400,000)
DISH TV (DBS) 7,791,000 (202,000)
Verizon Fios (Telco) 3,479,000 (87,000)
Frontier (Telco) 343,000 (20,000)
Total Top Other Traditional 25,513,000 (709,000)
Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
Hulu + Live TV 4,000,000 (100,000)
Sling TV 2,197,000 (55,000)
fuboTV 946,735 (109,510)

 

Total Top vMVPD^^ 7,143,735 (264,510)
Total Top Providers 72,193,247 (1,922,719)

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.”