Telcos drive US pay TV numbers down as cable recovers ground

Leichtman us pay tvIPTV providers’ losses – particularly those of AT&T – meant that the top 11 US pay TV operator lost 665,000 net subscribers in the second quarter, compared with a loss of 545,000 for the same period last year, according to figures compiled by Leichtman Research.

The top telecom providers lost about 500,000 video subscribers in 2Q 2016, compared to a gain of about 10,000 subscribers in 2Q 2015.

AT&T U-verse’s 391,000 net losses in 2Q 2016 were the most losses ever in a quarter by any provider, for the second consecutive quarter.

The top-line figure disguises progress by US cable operators, with the top six companies reducing their rate of losses to 225,000, down from 340,000 for Q2 in 2015. Cable losses for these companies were the fewest in any Q2 since 2006.

Satellite TV providers taken as a group performed strongly, adding 61,000 subscribers – including gains from the Sling TV OTT service – compared with prior-year losses of 214,000.

“The top pay-TV providers lost about 665,000 subscribers in the traditionally weak second quarter, with net losses in 2Q 2016 surpassing the previous quarterly low set in last year’s second quarter,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group.

“Over the past year, the top pay TV providers – including DISH’s Sling TV – lost about 705,000 subscribers — compared to a loss of about 380,000 over the prior year.”

There was also bad news for telecom operators on the broadband front, according to Leichtman. The 190,000 broadband additions recorded by the top 14 cable and telecom operators were the lowest number for any quarter for the past 15 years. Moreover the past seven second quarters account for the seven fewest quarterly broadband net additions over past 15 years, according to Leichtman’s numbers.

Again, the figures disguised a stronger showing for cable. The top cable operators added 550,000 broadband subscribers, 139% of the net additions for the top cable companies in 2Q 2015. Cable broadband net additions were the strongest for any second quarter since 2008.

Telcos on the other hand lost about 360,000 broadband subs in Q2, compared to losses of 150,000 for the same period in 2015.

“While Telcos lost more broadband subscribers in 2Q 2016 than in any previous quarter, cable companies added over 550,000 subscribers in the traditionally weak second quarter,” said Leichtman.

“Over the past year, cable companies have added about 3.5 million broadband subscribers, while Telcos have had net losses of about 500,000 broadband subscribers.”

The relatively strong showing for cable in the statistics compiled by Leichtman gives weight to the upbeat assessment of US cable’s prospects highlighted by SNL Kagan last week. The research group predicted that residential cable industry revenues will climb by US$9.32 billion (€8.35 billion) over the period, from US$108.38 billion in 2016 to US$117.7 billion in 2026.

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