Advanced Television

US Q1 pay-TV sheds 410,000 subs

May 19, 2017

Findings from broadband, media and entertainment industries research and analysis specialist Leichtman Research Group (LRG) indicate that the largest pay-TV providers in the US — representing about 95 per cent of the market — lost about 410,000 net video subscribers in 1Q 2017, compared to a gain of about 10,000 subscribers in 1Q 2016.

The top pay-TV providers account for 93.3 million subscribers — with the top six cable companies having over 48.6 million video subscribers, satellite TV services about 33.2 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 9.8 million subscribers, and the top Internet-delivered pay-TV services having about 1.7 million subscribers.

Key findings for the quarter include:

  • The top six cable companies lost about 115,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2017 — compared to a gain of about 50,000 subscribers in 1Q 2016
  • Satellite TV services lost about 320,000 subscribers in 1Q 2017 — compared to a gain of about 175,000 subscribers in 1Q 2016
  • DirecTV had no net adds in 1Q 2017 — compared to a gain of 328,000 in 1Q 2016
  • The top telephone providers lost about 325,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2017 — compared to a loss of 350,000 subscribers in 1Q 2016
  • Internet-delivered services (Sling TV and DirecTV NOW) added about 350,000 subscribers in 1Q 2017 — compared to about 130,000 net adds in 1Q 2016
  • Traditional pay-TV services (not including Internet-delivered services) lost about 760,000 subscribers in 1Q 2017 — compared to a loss of about 120,000 in 1Q 2016

“The pay-TV market lost about 410,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2017. This marked the first time that the industry has ever had net subscriber losses in the first quarter of a year,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group. “The decline in subscribers should not be interpreted as solely driven by a sudden increase in consumers disconnecting services. The net losses are also a function of a decrease in new connects, partially due to some providers less aggressively pursuing lower value customers than in the past.”

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at
End of 1Q 2017
Net Adds in
1Q 2017
Cable Companies
Comcast 22,549,000 41,000
Charter 17,147,000 (89,000)
Altice* 3,500,000 (35,000)
Mediacom** 832,000 (3,000)
Cable ONE 307,187 (13,059)
Other major private company*** 4,275,000 (15,000)
Total Top Cable 48,610,187 (114,059)
Satellite Services (DBS)
DirecTV 21,012,000 0
DISH-DBS^ 12,173,000 (318,000)
Total DBS 33,185,000 (318,000)
Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 4,681,000 (13,000)
AT&T U-verse 4,048,000 (233,000)
Frontier^^ 1,065,000 (80,000)
Total Top Phone 9,794,000 (326,000)
Sling TV^ 1,355,000 175,000
DIRECTV NOW^^ 375,000 175,000
Total Internet-Delivered 1,730,000 350,000
Total Top Providers 93,319,187 (408,059)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.
* Altice adjusted Suddenlink totals from prior reported amounts to align with Optimum metrics
** Mediacom includes pro forma results from a small system acquisition in January 2017
*** Includes LRG estimate for Cox
^ DISH reports combined DBS and Sling TV subscribers, the individual counts for DISH and Sling TV are LRG estimates
^^ Frontier is revised from prior reporting (does not including DBS subscribers)
^^^ LRG estimate for DIRECTV NOW in 1Q 2017
Company subscriber counts may not solely represent residential households
Top pay-TV providers represent approximately 95 per cent of all subscribers
Top cable companies do not include overbuilder WOW with 474,000 subscribers
Net additions reflect pro forma results from system sales and acquisitions, and reporting adjustments — therefore, comparing totals in this release to prior releases may not produce accurate findings

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