Pay-TV Subscriber Decline Picks Up Steam

DURHAM, N.H.—The growth of internet-delivered pay-TV services in the third quarter of 2017 weren’t enough to counteract the loss of subscribers to cable, satellite and phone companies, per the report from Leichtman Research Group. With a loss of 407,230 subscribers in Q3, the top pay-TV providers, which make up for 95 percent of the market, now have 92.2 million subscribers.

The top six cable companies—Comcast, Charter, Altice, Mediacom, CableOne and an undisclosed private company—lost 289,230 subscribers, bringing its total to 48.1 million; the loss was 90,000 in Q3 2016. Satellite TV services saw a gain in Q3 2016 of about 5,000, but lost 475,000 this year; satellite subscribers now total about 32.3 million. Telephone providers saw a bounce back from 2016, losing 179,000 video subscribers in 2017 compared to 370,000 the year prior; telephone subscribers total 9.3 million.

The only service to net a positive in the third quarter was internet-delivered service, which consisted of SlingTV and DirecTV Now. After adding about 200,000 subscribers in Q3 2016, the services combined to bring in 536,000 subscribers for Q3 2017, 240,000 for SlingTV, 296,000 for DirecTV Now. With the new subscribers, these services total 2.5 million of the total pay-TV subscribers.

Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, estimates that 155,000 more subscribers were lost in Q3 2017 than in Q3 2016.

The full report is available here.