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US multi-channel video industry suffers first subscriber loss

US multi-channel video operators suffered their first industry-wide subscriber loss over a full-year period in the first quarter of 2013, according to new research. 

Leichtman Research Group found that the 13 largest operators – which account for 94% of the market and include the likes of Comcast, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV – added around 195,000 net video subscribers in Q1 2013

This was down from a net gain of about 445,000 in Q1 2012, and was not enough to offset subscriber losses from Q2 and Q3 2012, leaving major multi-channel video providers with a net loss of about 80,000 subscribers over the past year, the study said.

“First-time ever annual industry-wide losses reflect a combination of a saturated market, an increased focus from providers on acquiring higher-value subscribers, and some consumers opting for a lower-cost mixture of over-the-air TV, Netflix and other over-the-top viewing options,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group.

However, he added that while the traditionally weak second quarter is likely to result in additional net subscriber losses, “it is unlikely that these current modest industry losses are a harbinger of a more dramatic near-term market decline.”