Pay TV Subscription Losses Levelling Off

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DURHAM, N.H.—Pay-TV providers appear to be holding their own when it comes to losing subscribers, according to the latest report from Leichtman Research Group. LRG found that the largest pay-TV providers in the U.S—representing about 95% of the market—lost about 1,230,000 net video subscribers in 2Q 2021, compared to a pro forma net loss of about 1,505,000 in 2Q 2020. 

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 77.6 million subscribers—with the top seven cable companies having 42.6 million video subscribers, other traditional pay-TV services having about 28.2 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services having about 6.8 million subscribers.

LRG reports that the top U.S. cable providers had a net loss of about 590,000 video subscribers in 2Q 2021, compared to a loss of about 505,000 subscribers in 2Q 2020 and that other traditional pay-TV services had a net loss of about 700,000 subscribers in 2Q 2021, compared to a loss of about 1,045,000 subscribers in 2Q 2020.

Among those services, AT&T Premium TV had 473,000 net losses in 2Q 2021, compared to 887,000 net losses in 2Q 2020. Top publicly reporting vMVPDs (i.e., YouTube TV, Sling TV and Hulu), added about 55,000 subscribers in 2Q 2021—compared to a gain of about 45,000 subscribers in 2Q 2020

“Pay-TV net losses of 1,230,000 in 2Q 2021 were about 275,000 fewer than in 2Q 2020 on a pro forma basis,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc.  “Over the past year, top pay-TV providers had a net loss of about 4,520,000 subscribers, compared to a loss of about 5,460,000 over the prior year.”

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Tech (, the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.