Despite the pandemic that benefited most streaming TV services, the bleeding of subscribers to traditional pay-TV providers, not including OTT live streaming services, continued unabated in 2020.

Overall, the top U.S. pay-TV providers lost 5.9% of subscribers in 2020, compared to 5.2% in 2019, according to new data released this week the Leichtman Research Group.

The report found the largest U.S. pay-TV services, which account for about 95% of the market, lost some 5,120,000 net video subscribers in 2020. That compared to a net loss 4,795,000 in 2019.

The market research firm estimated the total U.S. pay-TV market is now 81.3 million.

The the top seven cable companies account for 43.9 million video subscribers, while satellite TV services account for 21.8 million.

The top telco TV services share 7.9 million subscribers, while the the top reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services have 7.7 million subscribers.

Breaking down the losses, the satellite TV services lost about 3,440,000 subscribers in 2020, compared to a loss of about 3,700,000 subscribers in 2019.

The top seven cable companies lost about 1,915,000 video subscribers in 2020, compared to 1,560,000 subscribers in 2019.

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The top telco TV services lost about 405,000 video subscribers in 2020 – compared to a loss of about 630,000 subscribers in 2019.

The top Internet-delivered live vMVPD services — including Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, AT&T TV NOW, and fuboTV — added 640,000 subscribers in 2020, down from 1,095,000 net additions in 2019.

Excluding internet-delivered vMVPD services, the top traditional pay-TV operators lost a cumulative 5,765,000 subscribers in 2020 vs. a net loss of 5,890,000 in 2019.

AT&T dropped 3,260,000 subscribers across its four pay-TV services, including DirecTV, AT&T U-verse, AT&T TV, and AT&T TV NOW during the year. In 2019, the company lost a cumulative 4,095,000 subscribers, Leichtman said.

Subscribers to AT&T “Premium TV” services, minus the AT&T TV NOW vMVPD streamed offering, declined 15.3% in 2020. The subscriber totals for those services declined 4.6% in 2019.

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By Greg Tarr

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