US pay-TV sheds 835,000 subs

The top 10 television service providers in the US lost 835,000 subscribers between them in the first quarter of 2017, according to figures from the informitv Multiscreen Index. That represents a loss of slightly less than 1 per cent of their combined subscriber base. All 10 reported a net loss of television subscribers.

• DirecTV lost just over a quarter of a million traditional television subscribers, falling to 20.60 million, while AT&T U-verse shed 134,000 subscribers, ending the quarter with 3.69 million.

• Comcast lost 134,000 television subscribers, its largest loss in recent quarters, following a loss of 45,000 the previous quarter, reducing its total to 21.34 million.

• DISH Network subscribers fell by 129,000 to 13.20 million, including Sling TV, after removing 145,000 subscribers in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands following Hurricane Maria.

• Charter, the third largest provider in the US, lost 104,000 television subscribers, with the sixth consecutive quarterly customer loss reducing its total to 16.54 million.

• The other five out of the top 10 all reported smaller losses of between 6,000 and 26,000 television subscribers.

The top 10 services do not include DirecTV NOW online service, which is reported separately. It gained nearly 300,00 customers.

Cox Communications is not included as it is does not report subscriber numbers. The top 10 services have 85.26 million television customers between them, accounting for over 70 per cent of TV homes in the US.

“These 10 television service providers have lost over 2.5 million subscribers over the previous 12 months,” said informitv analyst Dr Sue Farrell. “That is just under 3 per cent of their customer base.”

“Online television services like Sling TV and DirecTV NOW are gaining customers but currently at a lower rate than traditional pay television is losing subscribers,” added Dr William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index. “DirecTV NOW has achieved a total of 787,000 customers since it launched at the end of November 2016. However, over the same period DirecTV and AT&T U-verse lost just under a million customers.”

The Multiscreen Index comprises 100 leading multichannel television and video services that collectively account for around 440 million subscribing homes worldwide. The index provides an industry benchmark of the relative performance of television service providers against which customer gains or losses can be measured.

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