Advanced Television

Research: US pay-TV sheds record 2.1m in Q1

May 15, 2020

With net losses that were more than in any previous quarter, findings from research and analysis firm Leichtman Research Group (LRG) indicate that pay-TV providers in the US – representing about 95 per cent of the market – lost about 2,065,000 net video subscribers in Q1 2020, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 1,025,000 subscribers in Q1 2019.

The top pay-TV providers account for 83.9 million subscribers – with the top seven cable companies having 45.2 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 24.1 million subscribers, the top telephone companies 8.2 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services 6.4 million subscribers.

Key findings for the quarter include:

  • Satellite TV services lost about 1,030,000 subscribers in Q1 2020 – compared to a loss of about 810,000 subscribers in Q1 2019
  • The top seven cable companies lost about 595,000 video subscribers in Q1 2020 – compared to a loss of about 335,000 subscribers in Q1 2019
  • The top telephone companies lost about 125,000 video subscribers in Q1 2020 – compared to a loss of about 105,000 subscribers in Q1 2019
  • The top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services (Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, and AT&T TV NOW) lost about 320,000 subscribers in Q1 2020 – compared to about 225,000 net adds in Q1 2019

“Pay-TV net losses of over 2 million subscribers in Q1 2020 were more than in any previous quarter,” said Bruce Leichtman, LRG president and principal analyst. “The record net losses were partly related to the impact of the coronavirus, but do not solely reflect consumers dropping services. Several providers cited a decrease in connects as a key component of net losses in the quarter, rather than an increase in disconnects.”

Pay-TV Providers Subscribers at end of Q1 2020 Net Adds in Q1 2020


Cable Companies
Comcast 20,845,000 (409,000)
Charter 16,074,000 (70,000)
Cox* 3,820,000 (45,000)
Altice 3,137,500 (41,700)
Mediacom 693,000 (17,000)
Atlantic Broadband 306,252 (2,386)
Cable One 303,000 (11,000)


Total Top Cable 45,178,752 (596,086)


Satellite Services (DBS)
DirecTV^ 15,136,000 (897,000)
DISH TV^^ 9,012,000 (132,000)
Total DBS 24,148,000 (1,029,000)


Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 4,145,000 (84,000)
AT&T U-verse^ 3,440,000 0
Frontier 621,000 (39,000)


Total Top Phone 8,206,000 (123,000)


Internet-Delivered (vMVPD)
Hulu + Live TV 3,300,000 100,000
Sling TV 2,311,000 (281,000)
AT&T TV NOW 788,000 (138,000)
Total Top vMVPD 6,399,000 (319,000)
Total Top Providers 83,931,752 (2,067,086)

Sources: The Companies and Leichtman Research Group, Inc.

*   LRG estimate

^  AT&T combines DirecTV, U-verse, and AT&T TV into ‘Premium TV’ – separate results are LRG estimates with AT&T TV included with U-verse

^^ Total includes the removal of 250,000 commercial subs due to COVID-19, DISH does not count these as net losses

Company subscriber counts may not solely represent residential households

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

vMVPD now includes Hulu + Live TV, but does not include YouTube TV or others that do not report quarterly subscriber totals

Top cable companies do not include overbuilder WOW with 365,800 subscribers

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.


Categories: Articles, Broadband, Broadcast, Cable, Consumer Behaviour, DTH/Satellite, IPTV, Markets, OTT, OTT, Pay TV, Research