Study: Top Pay TV Ops Lost 795K Subs In 2016

Leichtman Research Group has found that the major pay TV operators lost 795,000 net video subscribers in 2016, compared to a net loss of 445,000 subs in 2015.

The research group adds that the top pay TV providers accounted for 93.6 million subscribers in 2016, roughly 95 percent of the entire category. The top six cable TV services had more than 48.6 million video subs; the two satellite TV services had 33.5 million while the two leading telco TV operators had 10.1 million.

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Pay TV’s net losses in 2016 would be larger if you don’t include AT&T’s DIRECTV Now and Dish’s Sling TV in the overall totals. The leading live streaming services finished the year with roughly 1.4 million subscribers, Leichtman says.

While some analysts prefer to exclude the sub totals of DIRECTV Now and Sling TV from pay TV’s numbers, Leichtman says it’s important to count them.

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“The pay-TV market has seen significant changes in the past two years, with the introduction of Internet-delivered services, and share shifts among traditional providers that are driven as much by providers’ decisions as by changes in consumer demand,” said Bruce Leichtman, the research group’s chief. “”When analyzing the pay-TV market, it is now essential to include Internet-delivered services as part of the industry, just as it was important to include satellite and Telco services when those new forms of delivery were introduced.”

Other findings from the study:

  • The top six cable companies lost about 280,000 video subscribers in 2016 — compared to a loss of about 410,000 subscribers in 2015, and 1,200,000 subscribers in 2014. Losses for the top cable providers were the fewest in any year since 2006 (the year Telcos introduced video services);

    Satellite TV services added about 190,000 subscribers in 2016 — compared to a loss of about 450,000 subscribers in 2015. DIRECTV added 1,228,000 subscribers in 2016 — compared to 167,000 net adds in 2015;

    The top telephone providers lost 1,555,000 video subscribers in 2016 — compared to a loss of about 120,000 in 2015, and a gain of about 1,065,000 subscribers in 2014. U-verse lost 1,359,000 subscribers in 2016 (largely due to AT&T’s focus on higher margin DIRECTV subscribers, Leichtman notes) — compared to a loss of about 300,000 subscribers in 2015.

Here is Leichtman’s snapshot of the subscriber totals of the top pay TV operators at the end of 2016:

Comcast 22,508,000 161,000
Charter 17,236,000 (187,000)
Altice* 3,469,000 (111,000)
Mediacom 828,000 (27,000)
Cable ONE 320,246 (43,904)
Other major private company** 4,290,000 (70,000)
Total Top Cable 48,651,246 (277,904)
Satellite Services (DBS)
DIRECTV 21,012,000 1,228,000
DISH-DBS^ 12,491,000 (1,037,000)
Total DBS 33,503,000 191,000
Phone Companies
Verizon FiOS 4,694,000 59,000
AT&T U-verse 4,281,000 (1,359,000)
Frontier^^ 1,125,000 (255,000)
Total Top Phone 10,100,000 (1,555,000)
Internet-Delivered
Sling TV^ 1,180,000 645,000
DIRECTV NOW^^ 200,000 200,000
Total Internet-Delivered 1,380,000 845,000
Total Top Providers 93,634,246 (796,904)

— Phillip Swann

About TV Answer Man (583 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

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