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US pay TV industry reports ‘first ever Q1 subscriber loss’

Bruce Leichtman

Bruce Leichtman

The largest pay TV providers in the US – representing 95% of the market – lost some 410,000 net video subscribers in 1Q 2017, according to Leichtman Research Group.

This drop compares to a gain of about 10,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2016, as customer gains for internet-delivered services – like Sling TV and DirecTV Now – failed to offset the loss of cable and satellite customers.

Excluding internet-delivered services, traditional pay TV services lost about 760,000 subscribers in Q1 2017, compared to a loss of about 120,000 in Q1 2016, according to the research.

“The pay TV market lost about 410,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2017. This marked the first time that the industry has ever had net subscriber losses in the first quarter of a year,” said Leichtman Research Group president and principal analyst, Bruce Leichtman.

“The decline in subscribers should not be interpreted as solely driven by a sudden increase in consumers disconnecting services. The net losses are also a function of a decrease in new connects, partially due to some providers less aggressively pursuing lower value customers than in the past.”

Leichtman Research reported that the top six cable companies lost about 115,000 video subscribers in Q1 2017, compared to a gain of about 50,000 subscribers in Q1 2016.

Satellite TV services lost about 320,000 subscribers in the quarter, compared to a gain of about 175,000 subs a year earlier, while the the top telephone providers lost about 325,000 video subscribers, narrowing a loss of 350,000 subscribers in Q1 2016.

Internet-delivered services added an estimated 350,000 subscribers in 1Q 2017 compared to about 130,000 net adds in Q1 2016.