US pay TV additions weakest in a decade

Bruce Leichtman

Bruce Leichtman

The first quarter of 2015 represented the weakest first quarter for US pay TV customer sign-ups in more than a decade, according to Leichtman Research Group.

The research firm said that the 13 largest US pay TV providers added less than 10,000 net video subscribers in the Q1 2015, compared to more than 250,000 subscribers in 1Q 2014 – representing the worst Q1 for net additions since it started tracking the market more than 10 years ago.

“The traditionally strong first quarter for the pay TV industry did not prove to be so this year. Despite virtually breaking even in the quarter, the first quarter of 2015 marked the first significant sign of an acceleration in pay TV subscriber losses,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group.

“In addition to changes in consumer demand for video services spurred by competition from alternatives, the decline of about 0.4% of subscribers over the past year was also driven by several providers becoming more discerning in customer acquisition and retention, focusing on higher-value/lower-churn customers at the expense of the volume of subscribers.”

The research found that over the past year, pay TV providers lost about 370,000 subscribers, compared to a loss of around 65,000 subscribers over the prior year.

In Q1, the top nine cable companies were found to have lost about 60,000 video subscribers – similar to a loss of roughly 50,000 subscribers in 1Q 2014. Satellite TV providers lost 74,000 subscribers in 1Q 2015, compared to a gain of 52,000 in 1Q 2014.

According to Leichtman Research, the top US pay TV providers account for nearly 95.2 million subscribers. The largest nine cable companies have about 49.2 million video subscribers, the main satellite TV companies have more than 34.2 million subscribers, and top telcos have more than 11.7 million subscribers.

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