The largest U.S. pay-TV services cumulatively dropped about 4,690,000 net video subscribers in 2021, compared to a loss of 4,870,000 in the year prior.

That was the finding of a new study from the Leichtman Research Group, which also found that these top pay-TV providers, which cover about 93% of U.S. households, now account for about 76.1 million total subscribers

The top pay-TV providers now account for about 76.1 million subscribers. The top seven cable operators represent about 41.3 million, while other satellite and telco TV services account for about 26.8 million subscribers, LRG data indicates.

Top U.S. satellite & telco TV service subscribers in 2021. Source: LRG

The top publicly reporting Internet-delivered virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) tallied 7.9 million subscribers collectively in 2021. Note that the number does not include YouTube TV (a major vMVPD player) or Philo subscriber counts, because neither service regularly reports results.

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The research further found that the cable providers last year collectively lost about 2,695,000 TV service subscribers, compared to 1,940,000 in 2020.

Other traditional pay-TV operators saw a net loss of about 2,890,000 subscribers in 2021, against 3,845,000 total subscribers in 2020.

The top publicly reporting vMVPDs added about 895,000 subscribers in 2021 – compared to a gain of approximately 915,000 subscribers in 2020.

Traditional pay-TV services (not including vMVPD) saw a net loss of about 5,585,000 subscribers in 2021, LRG said. This compares to a net loss of about 5,785,000 in 2020.

“While the pay-TV industry continued to lose subscribers, net losses in 2021 were fairly similar to those in recent years,” stated Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group. “In 2021, the top pay-TV providers had a net loss of about 4.7 million subscribers, compared to a pro forma loss of about 4.9 million subscribers in 2020, and a loss of 4.1 million in 2019.”

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By Greg Tarr

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