Pay-TV subs recover balance in US

The top 10 television service providers in the US gained 84,600 subscribers in the last quarter of 2017, according to the informitv Multiscreen Index. It was a mixed picture, with only three of these services reporting gains. These were driven by growth in online television services, while traditional platforms continued a trend of slow quarterly losses.

The DirecTV NOW online service added over a third of a million customers in the quarter and 855,000 over the year, for a total of over a million. It is now reported as a distinct multichannel service in the Multiscreen Index. DISH Network broke out figures for its Sling TV offering for the first time, accounting for well over two million, up by 711,000 in a year to around a sixth of its subscriber base. If the company continues to report separate quarterly numbers Sling TV would qualify as a distinct service and rank eighth, just below Optimum cable.

  • DirecTV lost 147,000 traditional television subscribers, while AT&T U-verse lost a further 60,000, although DirecTV NOW gained 362,000, giving AT&T a total of 25.17 million in the US. That represents a total quarterly gain of 155,000, although it is down 321,000 year on year.
  • Comcast lost 38,000 television subscribers, the third consecutive quarterly loss, compared to a gain of 68,000 for the same period the previous year, ending 2017 with a total of 21.30 million.
  • Charter Spectrum added 2,000 television customers, its first net addition for six quarters, although it ended the year down by 292,000.
  • Dish Network gained 39,000. This includes 75,000 reactivations following Hurricane Maria, having previously discounted 145,000 from its subscriber base. The total of 13.24 million subscribers includes 2.21 million Sling TV subscribers.
  • Verizon Fios lost 29,000 subscribers, the fourth consecutive quarterly television subscriber loss. It ended 2017 with 4.62 million, down 75,000 on the previous year.
  • Altice USA shed 18,800 Optimum television customers and 5,600 Suddenlink subscribers, with a combined loss of over 129,000 over the year.
  • Frontier lost 20,000 in the last quarter, and 184,000 over the year.

“Sling TV and DirecTV NOW are adding significant numbers of online subscribers but overall the traditional platforms are slowly leaking television customers,” noted Dr William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index. “These two online services currently only represent 4% of the television subscribers to the top 10 services in the United States as ranked in the Multiscreen Index.”

The top 10 services have 85.23 million television customers between them, accounting for over 70% of television homes in the US.

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