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Weak Q1 for US pay-TV adds

Findings from broadband, media and entertainment industries analysis firm Leichtman Research Group (LRG) indicate that the thirteen largest pay-TV providers in the US – representing about 95 per cent of the market – added fewer than 10,000 net video subscribers in 1Q 2015, compared to a gain of over 250,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2014. This marked the weakest first quarter for pay-TV net adds since LRG began tracking the industry over a decade ago.

The top pay-TV providers account for nearly 95.2 million subscribers – with the top nine cable companies having about 49.2 million video subscribers, satellite TV companies having over 34.2 million subscribers, and top telephone companies having over 11.7 million subscribers.

Other key findings for the quarter include:

  • The top nine cable companies lost about 60,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2015 – similar to a loss of about 50,000 subscribers in 1Q 2014
  • Satellite TV providers lost 74,000 subscribers in 1Q 2015 – compared to a gain of 52,000 in 1Q 2014
  • Total DBS net adds in 1Q 2015 were the fewest in any first quarter, and fourth lowest in any quarter, since LRG began tracking the industry
  • The top telephone providers added 140,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2015 – compared to 251,000 net additions in 1Q 2014
  • Net video adds for the Telcos in 1Q 2015 were the fewest in any quarter since 4Q 2006
  • Over the past year, pay-TV providers lost about 370,000 subscribers – compared to a loss of about 65,000 subscribers over the prior year

“The traditionally strong first quarter for the pay-TV industry did not prove to be so this year. Despite virtually breaking even in the quarter, the first quarter of 2015 marked the first significant sign of an acceleration in pay-TV subscriber losses,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group.  “In addition to changes in consumer demand for video services spurred by competition from alternatives, the decline of about 0.4 per cent of subscribers over the past year was also driven by several providers becoming more discerning in customer acquisition and retention, focusing on higher-value/lower-churn customers at the expense of the volume of subscribers.”


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