US multichannel video subscriber losses ‘pick up speed’

The decline in US multichannel video subscriptions picked up speed in Q1 2016, despite a “relatively upbeat cable performance”, according to SNL Kagan.

The research firm’s First quarter US Multichannel Subscriber report estimates that the combined cable, direct-broadcast satellite and teleco sectors lost 162,000 video customers during the period.

“The mounting loss in the quarter foreshadows mounting pressure on service providers and an accelerating annual decline. In the trailing 12 months, the combined decline fell just short of 1.2 million subscriptions, despite the uptick in occupied households,” said SNL.

The “upbeat” cable performance referred to a loss of 18,300 total video customers by the US cable operators. This was the sector’s best first quarter since 2008 – the last time the cable industry ended the three month period with positive subscriber gains.

In Q1 2016 telco losses accelerated “as AT&T’s shift away from U-verse gained momentum”. SNL said that driven by these U-verse losses, the number of US video customers in this segment were down nearly 4% from a peak of 13.2 million in mid-2015.

The satellite sector gained 166,000 subscribers in the quarter, with DirecTV’s growth strategy offsetting losses from Dish Network’s focus on its Sling TV initiative, according to SNL.