By Phillip Swann
The TV Answer Man – @tvanswerman
YouTube TV was the only major pay TV provider to have a net subscriber gain in the 2023 second quarter (April through June), adding an estimated 200,000 subs during the time period, according to a new report from Leichtman Research Group. The company estimates that brings YouTube TV’s subscriber total to approximately 5.9 million, which would make it the fifth largest pay TV operator in the United States behind Comcast (15 million video subs), Charter’s Spectrum TV (14.7 million), DIRECTV (12.35 million) and Dish (8.9 million).

In contrast, Leichtman reports that DIRECTV lost 400,000 subscribers in the second quarter; Comcast lost 543,000 subs; Charter’s Spectrum TV lost 200,000 and Dish’s satellite service lost 197,000. Despite the YouTube TV gains, the live streaming category also suffered a tough quarter with Hulu Live losing 100,000 customers, Sling TV jettisoning 97,000 subs and Fubo losing 118,000. In total, Leichtman estimates that major pay TV operators lost 1.73 million subscribers in the second quarter.

The pay TV industry, whether the traditional kind (cable and satellite) or the live streaming category, appears to be losing customers to less expensive streaming plans from Video on Demand services (Netflix, Disney Plus, Max, etc.) and free, ads-supported channels such as YouTube (non-subscription service), Tubi, Pluto TV and Roku Channels. Many consumers may be reluctant to pay scores of dollars every month for a multi-channel bundle, choosing instead to combine a few $10 a month plans with free channels.

Of course, the reason why YouTube TV was able to add subscribers in the second quarter is crystal-clear. In April, the start of the quarter, the live streamer started selling the NFL Sunday Ticket for the first time since it was an exclusive on DIRECTV for 28 seasons. While you can subscribe to the Ticket as a standalone on YouTube Primetime Channels, YouTube TV’s Ticket plan is cheaper although you have to maintain the YouTube TV’s monthly subscription during the season.

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— Phillip Swann