Traditional Pay-TV Subscriptions Continued To Decline In Q1
Despite the surge in viewership of online streaming content during the COVID-19 sheltering period, subscribers to traditional pay-TV services like cable, satellite and telco-TV continue to dwindle at an alarming rate.
The top 10 U.S. pay-TV service providers hemorrhaged a cumulative 2.33 million subscribers during the first quarter of 2020, according to Multiscreen Index data tabulated by communications industry web site informitiv.
The trend underscores the rapid pace at which content viewership is shifting toward more affordable alternatives, and the importance of smart TV platforms or add-on streaming media options to new television purchases.
The Index revealed that collectively, the top 10 services now have fewer than 75 million subscribers, compared to 84 million two years ago. The report said numbers were taken directly from companies’ public reports and not from analysts’ estimates. Cox Communications did not appear in the top 10 index because it had not publicly reported its subscriber numbers.
The biggest loss came from AT&T, which dropped 897,000 traditional Premium TV subscribers (DirecTV, U-verse etc) and another 135,000 AT&T TV NOW live OTT streaming subscribers for a combined loss of over a million.
Next in line was Dish Network which registered 382,000 fewer satellite television subscribers and 281,000 fewer Sling TV online live OTT television users.
Cable TV giant Comcast lost 388,000 television subscribers in the period, marking its 12th consecutive quarterly subscriber loss, as the company’s total TV subs dropped under 20 million for the first time in almost two decades, informitiv said.
Verizon saw its 13th consecutive quarterly television subscriber decline, losing 84,000 to a total of 4.07 million, from its high of 5.86 million four years earlier.
Charter Spectrum lost 70,000 television subscribers — a 9th consecutive quarterly loss — in the first quarter to 15.55 million remaining subscribers.
Altice, Mediacom and Frontier lost 97,700 television subscribers between them in the quarter, and a total of 372,600 over 12 months, informitiv said.
“This is the largest quarterly loss of television subscribers in the United States we have reported to date,” stated William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index, in the report. “The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to this, but many serve providers have been losing subscribers for some time. Notably, their newer online services are now no exception to this trend.”
“It is difficult to determine how far these losses can be attributed to economic conditions and how much to an accelerating long-term structural decline,” wrote informitv analyst Sue Farrell.
Subscribers to the top 10 pay-TV service companies now account for 62% of television homes.
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By Greg Tarr
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