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Kagan: US pay TV subscriptions down 3.7% in 2017

Traditional US pay TV subscriptions dropped by 3.7% in 2017 to 94 million, despite a slowdown in subscription losses in the fourth quarter, according to Kagan data.

The S&P Global Market Intelligence group said that combined, cable, satellite and telco subscriptions are now down approximately 7.4 million from their peak in 2012.

However, when you include figures from the top two virtual service providers, Sling TV and DirecTV Now, the multichannel subscriber count stands at 97.3 million.

“Cable operators lost an estimated 986,411 video subscribers in 2017, more than twice the 2016 drop. That broke the sector’s three-year streak of decelerating video subscriber losses,” according to the report.

The Kagan research said that the satellite sector had “by far its biggest annual loss on record” with subscriptions down by nearly 1.7 million following declines at both DirecTV and Dish.

Telcos shed 903,262 subscribers in 2017 but slowed their net subscriber losses for a third consecutive quarter, according to the data.

The news came as Parks Associates reported that nearly 60% of video viewed on the TV in US broadband households is on-demand, non-linear content.

Among 18-34 year-olds, Parks found that TV viewing of live sources – including pay TV, over-the-air channels and livestreaming – now makes up just over one quarter of TV viewing.

“Live TV is far from dead, but on-demand sources are claiming an increasingly large portion of viewing,” said Brett Sappington, senior analyst, Parks Associates. “In addition, a larger portion of live content viewing is moving online.

“Among TV viewers who watch live broadcasts on a TV, 17% of their live TV viewing is through an online video service with live content such as CBS All-Access, Univision Now, or PlutoTV. Among heads of households under the age of 35 who watch live TV, the percentage of online sources jumps to 30%.”

Earlier this week, Leichtman Research Group released a report that said the largest pay TV providers in the US – representing about 95% of the market – lost almost twice as many net video subscribers in 2017 as they did in 2016.