The 10 largest pay TV operators lost 405,000 net video subscribers in the third quarter, compared to a loss of 250,000 in last year’s third quarter, according to Leichtman Research Group.
The 10 operators, which still have more than 92 million video subscribers collectively, were hurt in the quarter by two hurricanes that rocked Texas and Florida residents as well as those in Puerto Rico.
But the subscriber defections represent the continuation of an industry trend that has seen traditional pay TV services lose millions of viewers over the last few years. Analysts and pay TV executives have attributed the losses to everything from cord-cutting to increased competition from live streaming services to tighter credit policies that have forced some subscribers to leave.
Leichtman notes that the live streaming services, such as AT&T’s DIRECTV Now and Dish’s Sling TV, have added subs in recent quarters, making it more likely that live streaming is here to stay.
(The research group estimates that Sling added 240,000 customers in the quarter while AT&T has reported that DIRECTV Now added 296,000.)
“The top two Internet-delivered pay-TV services added over a half million subscribers in 3Q 2017, bringing their combined total to nearly 2.5 million subscribers, and further entrenching this newer form of delivery as part of today’s pay-TV industry,” Leichtman states.
The 10 pay TV operators cited in the study include: DIRECTV, Dish, Comcast, Cox, Charter, Altice, Mediacom, Frontier, Verizon, and U-verse. Leichtman says they represent about 95 percent of the traditional pay TV market.
— Phillip Swann