Major U.S. Pay TV Providers Lost 345,000 Subs in Q2

U.S. cable and satellite TV operators took it on the chin again in the historically weak second quarter, while the telcos pulled in some solid subscriber gains, Leichtman Research Group found in its latest analysis of the pay-TV industry.

The thirteen-largest multi-channel video providers in the U.S., representing 94% of the market, lost a combined 345,000 net video subs in the second quarter, which is typically plagued by “seasonality” as college students and snowbirds churn out. That compares to the 325,000 subs those providers lost in the second quarter of 2012 and 2011, LRG said.

Broken down, the top nine cable MSOs shed about 555,000 video subs in the second quarter, versus the 540,000 subs lost in the year-ago quarter. Dish Network and DirecTV, meanwhile, lost 162,000 subs, expanding on the 62,000 they lost a year earlier.

The top domestic telcos – Verizon Communications and AT&T --  were the bright spot, as they added 373,000 video subs in the second quarter, topping the 275,000 they added in the second quarter of 2012.

At the end of the quarter, the top cable MSOs had 50.5 million video subs, ahead of satellite’s 34 million, and the top telcos’ 10.03 million. Over the past year, multi-channel video providers lost about 100,000 subscribers, versus a gain of about 380,000 over the prior year, according to LRG.

“The traditionally weak second quarter proved to be a down quarter for the multi-channel industry, but industry-wide losses were similar to recent second quarters,” LRG president and principal analyst Bruce Leichtman said, in a release. “The multi-channel video industry has leveled-off, with major providers losing about 0.1% of all subscribers over the past year.”

This downward trend has caused industry analysts, including Moffett Research’s Craig Moffett, to declare that cord-cutting is no longer “an urban myth.”