Advanced Television

US Q3 pay-TV subs down 1.7m

November 14, 2019

Findings from specialist analysis firm Leichtman Research Group (LRG) indicate that the largest pay-TV providers in the US – representing about 93 per cent of the market – lost about 1,740,000 net video subscribers in Q3 2019, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 975,000 subscribers in Q3 2018.

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 84.8 million subscribers – with the top seven cable companies having 46.1 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 26.3 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 8.6 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services 3.8 million subscribers.

Key findings for the quarter include:

  • Satellite TV services lost about 1,140,000 subscribers in Q3 2019 – compared to a net loss of about 725,000 subscribers in Q3 2018
    • DirecTV had record net losses for the sixth consecutive quarter, while DISH TV had fewer net losses than in any quarter since Q3 2014
  • The top seven cable companies lost about 410,000 video subscribers in Q3 2019 – compared to a loss of about 245,000 subscribers in Q3 2018
  • The top telephone providers lost about 210,000 video subscribers in Q3 2019 – compared to a loss of about 80,000 subscribers in Q3 2018
  • Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services, Sling TV and AT&T NOW, added about 20,000 subscribers in Q3 2019 – compared to about 75,000 net adds in Q3 2018
  • AT&T had a net loss of about 1,370,000 subscribers across its three pay-TV services (DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, and AT&T NOW) in Q3 2019 – compared to a net loss of about 295,000 subscribers in Q3 2018

“The top pay-TV providers had a net loss of about 1,740,000 subscribers in Q3 2019.  This marked the fifth consecutive quarter of record pay-TV industry net losses,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc.  “AT&T, the leading pay-TV provider in the US, accounted for 79 per cent of the net losses in the quarter compared to 30 per cent of net losses in Q3 2018.  This change is largely the result of AT&T’s strategic decision to increasingly focus on retaining and acquiring more profitable subscribers.”

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of Q3 2019 Net Adds in Q3 2019


Cable Companies
Comcast 21,403,000 (238,000)
Charter 16,245,000 (75,000)
Cox* 3,900,000 (40,000)
Altice 3,223,400 (31,900)
Mediacom 729,000 (18,000)
Atlantic Broadband 312,555 5,294
Cable ONE 298,063 (10,430)


Total Top Cable 46,111,018 (408,036)


Satellite Services (DBS)
DirecTV^ 16,828,000 (1,073,000)
DISH TV 9,494,000 (66,000)


Total DBS 26,322,000 (1,139,000)


Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 4,280,000 (66,000)
AT&T U-verse^ 3,600,000 (104,000)
Frontier 698,000 (40,000)


Total Top Phone 8,578,000 (210,000)


Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
Sling TV 2,686,000 214,000
AT&T NOW^^ 1,145,000 (195,000)


Total Top vMVPD 3,831,000 19,000


Total Top Providers 84,842,018 (1,738,036)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.

*     LRG estimate

**   Altice adjusted subscriber totals for quarters prior to Q3 2019

^    AT&T  combines totals for DirecTV and U-verse into “Premium TV” – separate results are LRG estimates

^^  The DirecTV NOW brand name was changed to AT&T NOW in Q3 2019

Company subscriber counts may not solely represent residential households

Top pay-TV providers represent approximately 93 per cent of all subscribers

Top cable does not include overbuilder WOW with 380,800 subscribers

Internet-delivered (vMVPD) does not include Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, or others that do not publicly report subscriber counts 

Net additions reflect pro forma results from system sales and acquisitions, reporting adjustments, and the addition of new providers to the list – therefore, comparing totals in this release to prior releases will not produce accurate findings


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