Cord cutting isn't getting much worse, but it's sure not getting better, either.
The 14 largest U.S. pay TV operators lost a combined 1.955 million subscribers in the first quarter, only slightly more than their combined pro forma net loss of 1.91 million in the first quarter of 2021, and 1.96 million in 1Q 2020, according to quarterly figures released by Leichtman Research Group (LRG).
“Over the past year, top pay TV providers had a net loss of about 4,735,000 subscribers, similar to a loss of about 4,820,000 over the prior year," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG.
LRG's quarterly cord cutting report covers cable, satellite, telco and vMVPD operators covering about 93% of the U.S., most of them publicly traded.
For a few non-publicly effacing operators, LRG makes informed estimates. For example, the research company tallied 300,000 lost customers for DirecTV, an operation taken off AT&T's SEC-scrutinized books last year when it was spun off in a JV with private equity. DirecTV not only includes the legacy satellite TV operation, but also vMVPD DirecTV Stream and AT&T U-verse TV.
The LRG estimate is a marked improvement for the DirecTV holdings.
AT&T's "premium" TV services lost a combined 620,000 in the first quarter of 2021, while they were still included in the wireless company's quarterly earnings reports.
Also estimated is No. 3 cable operator Cox Communications. LRG projects the privately held Atlanta MSO to have lost around 80,000 video customers in the quarter.
Notably excluded: YouTube TV. Parent company Alphabet doesn't break out the virtual pay TV service's numbers, and LRG doesn't provide estimates for it.
Virtual MVPDs lost 507,562 in Q1 vs. a loss of around 265,000 in the first quarter of 2021.
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Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!