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US pay TV subscriber losses mount

The top 10 US pay TV providers recorded a total net loss of over 358,000 subscribers in the second quarter, with gains for OTT TV options DirecTV Now and Sling TV only partially offsetting losses from their parent companies and the cable operators, according to Informitv’s latest Multiscreen Index.

According to the latest edition of the index, DirecTV lost 286,000 satellite television subscribers, compared to 188,000 the previous quarter and 156,000 in the second quarter the previous year, with its base falling to just below 20 million customers. Dish Network meanwhile lost 192,000 satellite television subscribers, compared to 185,000 the previous quarter. However, the figure was an improvement on the 196,000 customers it lost in the second quarter the previous year.

OTT TV service DirecTV Now meanwhile made the greatest gain of any pay TV service, adding 325,000 customers to end the quarter with 1.74 million. Dish’s Sling TV equivalent added 41,000 to end June with 1.74 million, overtaking Altice USA-owned cable operator Optimum.

Among the big cable operators, Comcast lost 136,000 cable television customers, with its fifth consecutive quarterly loss, down 410,000 year on year to 21.07 million, while Charter Spectrum improved its performance somewhat, with a loss of 73,000, compared to a loss of 121,000 the previous quarter and 234,000 in the second quarter the prior year.

Altice USA also improved its performance, with a loss of 24,000 between Optimum and Suddenlink, compared to 30,000 the previous quarter and 37,000 a year before.

In the telecom TV world Verizon Fios lost 37,000 customers, but AT&T U-Verse added 24,000, leaving the pair with 1.24 million fewer subscribers than they had two years ago.

The top 10 players now have 83.56 million TV customers, accounting for just under 70% of overall TV homes. The figures do not include Cox Communications, which does not reveal subscriber numbers.

“Satellite television services lost more subscribers than were gained by their corresponding online alternatives, said William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index.

“Cable companies slightly reduced their rate of loss but the market is marked by slow attrition rather than a dramatic decline.”