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Pay TV Lost Record 2M+ Subscribers in Q1

(Image credit: GoodLifeStudio/Getty Images)

How bad was it? Pretty, pretty bad.

The U.S. pay TV business lost about 2.065 million customers in the first quarter, its worst quarterly subscriber performance ever, according to Leichtman Research Group (LRG). 

From cable to satellite, from telco to virtual MVPD, every sector of the pay TV industry is in recession.

The top seven cable companies lost about 595,000 video subscribers in the first quarter, compared to a loss of about 335,000 subscribers in Q1 2019. The biggest loser was Comcast, which shed 409,000 linear video customers. 

Since AT&T didn’t break out which of its 897,000 lost linear video souls belonged respectively to DirecTV, U-verse or new IP platform AT&T TV, LRG seems to have simply put them all onto DirecTV’s balance sheet. Coupled with Dish Network’s 123,000 lost souls, satellite TV lost 1.029 million customers in the research company’s tally. 

Even with the marginalized U-verse platforms losses being counted as nil, LRG tabulated telco sector attrition at 123,000, with Verizon Fios TV shedding a record 84,000 customers. 

And in the vMVPD area, even with market leader Hulu + Live TV adding an estimated 100,000 users in Q1, virtual pay TV services still lost customers during the three-month period. This blood loss was led by Dish’s Sling TV, which lost a record high 281,000 users in the quarter. 

LRG’s tally accounts for the top 12 U.S. pay TV companies, representing about 95% of the U.S. customer base. These customers finished Q1 with 83.9 million remaining customers.

 “The record net losses were partly related to the impact of the coronavirus, but do not solely reflect consumers’ dropping services. Several providers cited a decrease in connects as a key component of net losses in the quarter, rather than an increase in disconnects,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc.

(Image credit: Leichtman Research Group)