U.S. Pay-TV Subscriber Losses More Than Triple To 1.5M In Q2, Report Finds

U.S. Pay-TV Subscriber Losses More Than Triple To 1.5M In Q2, Report Finds

By Dade Hayes August 12, 2019 5:58am

The largest pay-TV providers in the U.S. saw video subscriber losses more than triple to 1.53 million in the second quarter, according to the latest report from Leichtman Research Group.

The tally marks is up dramatically from the 420,000 losses in the second quarter of 2018. LRG based the figures on its findings for companies representing 93% of the total marketplace.

“This marked the fourth consecutive quarter of record pay-TV industry net losses,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG. “With an increased focus on acquiring and retaining profitable subscribers, [satellite] services accounted for more than half of the net pay-TV losses in 2Q 2019, and 63% of the losses over the past year.”

True cord-cutting is taking place, but the video subscriber declines have also been accompanied by gains in broadband customers as many households shift toward streaming. That means top cable operators like Comcast and Charter can still forge profitable paths despite shedding traditional customers. The lack of broadband offerings at satellite companies, though, means the numbers for DirecTV and Dish Network are resonating more loudly.

DirecTV had 17.9 million subscribers at the end of the quarter, having dropped 778,000, while Dish Network had its best quarter since the end of 2014, dropping just 79,000.

On a 12-month basis, top pay-TV providers have now lost 5 million subscribers over the past five years, compared with losses of just shy of 1.1 million in the prior year.

All together, the top providers have about 86.6 million subscribers, the lowest level in more than a decade.

Recent carriage disputes between CBS and DirecTV parent AT&T as well as a still-unresolved fight between Dish Network and HBO have highlighted the intensifying pressure on the traditional pay-TV bundle.


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