Advanced Television

Research: US pay-TV subs loss continues

May 15, 2019

Findings from analyst firm Leichtman Research Group indicate that the largest pay-TV providers in the US – representing about 95 per cent of the market – lost about 1,325,000 net video subscribers in Q1 2019, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 305,000 subscribers in Q1 2018.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 87.8 million subscribers – with the top six cable companies having 46.7 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 28.3 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 8.9 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services 3.9 million subscribers.

Key findings for the quarter include:

  • Satellite TV services lost about 810,000 subscribers in Q1 2019 – compared to a net loss of about 375,000 subscribers in Q1 2018
    • DBS net losses were more than in any previous quarter, marking the fourth consecutive quarter of record net DBS losses
  • The top six cable companies lost about 335,000 video subscribers in Q1 2019 – compared to a loss of about 285,000 subscribers in Q1 2018
  • The top telephone providers lost about 105,000 video subscribers in Q1 2019 – compared to a loss of about 50,000 subscribers in Q1 2018
  • Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services, Sling TV and DirecTV NOW, lost about 75,000 subscribers in Q1 2019 – compared to about 405,000 net adds in Q1 2018
  • AT&T had a net loss of about 625,000 subscribers across its three pay-TV services (DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, and DirecTV NOW) in Q1 2019 – compared to a net gain of about 125,000 subscribers in Q1 2018

“Overall, the top pay-TV providers had a net loss about 1,325,000 subscribers in Q1 2019. The leading pay-TV provider in the US, AT&T, accounted for 47 per cent of the net losses in the quarter,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “Q1 2019 was the third consecutive quarter of record pay-TV net losses. This accelerated downturn in the pay-TV market coincided with the decisions by AT&T and other providers to increasingly focus on long-term profitability when acquiring and retaining subscribers.”

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of Q1 2019 Net Adds in Q1 2019
Cable Companies
Comcast 21,866,000 (120,000)
Charter 16,461,000 (145,000)
Cox* 3,980,000 (35,000)
Altice 3,297,300 (10,200)
Mediacom 764,000 (12,000)
Cable ONE** 320,611 (11,500)
Total Top Cable 46,688,911 (333,700)
Satellite Services (DBS)
DirecTV^ 18,679,000 (543,000)
DISH TV 9,639,000 (266,000)
Total DBS 28,318,000 (809,000)
Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 4,398,000 (53,000)
AT&T U-verse^ 3,704,000 0
Frontier 784,000 (54,000)
Total Top Phone 8,886,000 (107,000)
Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
Sling TV 2,424,000 7,000
DIRECTV NOW 1,508,000 (83,000)
Total Top vMVPD^^ 3,932,000 (76,000)
Total Top Providers 87,824,911 (1,325,700)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.

*  LRG estimate

**  Includes a change in reporting methodology – net adds are an LRG estimate

^  AT&T now combines totals for DIRECTV and U-verse into ‘Premium TV’ – separate results are LRG estimates

^^ Internet-delivered (vMVPD) does not include Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, fuboTV, or Philo, which do not publicly report subscribers

Company subscriber counts may not solely represent residential households

Top pay-TV providers represent approximately 95 per cent of all subscribers

Top cable does not include overbuilder WOW with 398,000 subscribers


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