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US pay TV down 2 million subs in Q1

Major pay TV operators in the US lost more than 2 million subscribers in Q1.

According to new figures from Leichtman Research Group, the largest pay TV operators in the country (representing about 95% of the entire market)  lost about 2,065,000 net video subscribers in Q1 2020, compared to a loss of about 1,025,000 subscribers in Q1 2019.

The biggest individual loser was cable operator Comcast, the market leader with over 20 million subscribers. The operator lost 409,000 subscribers in the quarter, just shy of 340,000 more than Charter which dropped 70,000 subs in the same period of time. Between them, the top seven cable companies lost about 595,000 video subscribers in Q1 2020 – compared to a loss of about 335,000 subscribers in Q1 2019.

Satellite TV services lost about 1,030,000 subscribers in Q1 2020 – compared to a loss of about 810,000 subscribers in Q1 2019.

The top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) services (Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, and AT&T TV NOW) lost about 320,000 subscribers in Q1 2020 – compared to about 225,000 net adds in Q1 2019. Hulu + Live TV was the one positively performing vMVPD operator with gains of 100,000 subscribers to 3.3 million.

In total, the top pay-TV providers account for 83.9 million subscribers. The top seven cable companies have a total of 45.2 million video subscribers, satellite TV services providers have 24.1 million subscribers, the top telephone companies have 8.2 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services 6.4 million subscribers.

Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, said: “Pay-TV net losses of over 2 million subscribers in 1Q 2020 were more than in any previous quarter. The record net losses were partly related to the impact of the coronavirus, but do not solely reflect consumers’ dropping services. Several providers cited a decrease in connects as a key component of net losses in the quarter, rather than an increase in disconnects.”