US Pay TV providers lost 1.7 million subs in Q3

Major US pay TV providers lost over 1.7 million subscribers in the most recent quarter.

According to a new report from Leichtman Research Group, this is significantly more than the 975,000 subscribers lost in Q3 2018. 

The research was made up of figures the top pay TV providers which represent about 93% of the market. In total, those operators account for about 84.8 million subscribers.

Satellite TV services lost about 1,140,000 subscribers in Q3 2019 – compared to a net loss of about 725,000 subscribers for the same period last year. The top seven cable companies saw less severe decline, but still lost about 410,000 video subscribers, up from 245,000 Q3 2018.

In an indication of the shifting consumption habits, vMVPD services Sling TV and AT&T NOW added about 20,000 subscribers in Q3, thought that is lower than the 75,000 net adds in Q3 2018. 

In terms of individual operators, Comcast, the largest individual cable company in terms of subscribers, lost 238,000 to leave it at just shy of 21.5 million in total.

This decline is something the company is conscious of, with it increasingly shifting its focusing its efforts on OTT services. During its most recent earnings call, CEO Brian Roberts emphasised Comcast’s recently launched Flex OTT platform, and called it the “fourth pillar” of the company. 

AT&T had a net loss of about 1,370,000 subscribers across its three pay-TV services (DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, and AT&T NOW) in the quarter. This is over a million more than it recorded in Q3 2018 (295,000).

Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group said: “This marked the fifth consecutive quarter of record pay-TV industry net losses. AT&T, the leading pay TV provider in the US, accounted for 79% of the net losses in the quarter compared to 30% of net losses in Q3 2018. This change is largely the result of AT&T’s strategic decision to increasingly focus on retaining and acquiring more profitable subscribers.”

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