Pay TV Subscriber Losses Drop to 305K in Q1

The top U.S. pay TV providers turned in an improved Q1 2018, but the results weren’t good enough to avoid a net subscriber loss, according to a new analysis from Leichtman Research Group.  

The largest MVPDs, representing about 95 percent of the market, shed about 305,000 net video subs in Q1 2018, compared to a pro forma loss of about 515,000 subs in the year-ago period, LRG said.

“Traditional” pay TV services, excluding internet-delivered services, lost 710,000 subs in Q1, improved from a year-ago loss of 780,000. Among individual market segments, the top six U.S. cable operators lost about 285,000 video subs in Q1, widened from a loss of 115,000 a year earlier.

Dish Network and DirecTV lost 375,000 satellite TV subs in Q1, versus a year-ago loss of 340,000. The top telco TV providers lost just 50,000 video subs in the period, improving greatly from losses of 325,000 subs in Q1 2017. LRG said Q1 marked the fewest sub losses in that segment in any quarter since Q3 2015.

Read: Millions Flee Pay-TV; Revenues Slide, Say Researchers]

Dish’s Sling TV and AT&T’s DirecTV Now, the top publicly reporting OTT TV service providers, combined to tack on 405,000 subs in Q1, up from 265,000 net adds in Q1 2017, LRG said.

With all segments factored in, the largest U.S. pay TV providers now account for 91.9 million subs – 47.8 million for the top cable MSOs, 31.1 million for satellite TV, 9.2 million, and 3.8 million for Sling TV and DirecTV Now.

Recent estimates that include subs for other OTT TV services such as YouTube TV, fuboTV, Hulu live TV, PlayStation Vue and Philo, put the virtual MVPD sub total at north of 5 million.

“The number of pay TV subscribers for the top providers peaked six years ago. Since 1Q 2012, top providers have lost about 3.4 million total pay-TV subscribers,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG, said in a statement. “Since the industry’s peak, traditional services have lost about 7.2 million subscribers, while the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered services gained about 3.8 million subscribers.”