Top U.S. Pay TV Providers Lost 795K Subs in 2016: LRG

The largest U.S. pay TV providers, representing 93.6 million subs or about 95% of the market, shed about 795,000 net video customers in 2016, versus a pro forma loss of about 445,000 subscribers in 2015, according to a new data analysis from Leichtman Research Group.

Broken down further, the top six cable operators ended 2016 with 48.6 million video subs, compared to satellite TV’s 33.5 million, about 10.1 million subs among telco TV providers, and 1.4 million for the top OTT TV providers (i.e. Sling TV and DirecTV Now), LRG said.

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The top six MSOs collectively lost 280,000 video subs last year, narrowed from a loss of 410,000 subs in 2015, and 1.2 million subs in 2014. Among those top MSOs, Comcast added 161,000 video subs in 2016. The 2016 losses were the fewest for U.S. cable since 2006, LRG said.

The U.S. satellite TV providers, DirecTV and Dish Network, added 190,000 subs last year, improving from a loss of about 450,000 subs in 2015.

The top telcos lost 1.55 million subs, with a big chunk of that due to AT&T’s focus on higher-margin DirecTV subs, which resulted in a loss of 1.35 million U-verse TV customers in 2015. Verizon Fios added 59,000 video subs in 2016. Those top telcos lost about 300,000 video subs in 2015.

Sling TV and DirecTV Now added about 845,000 subs in 2016 (DirecTV Now launched its service in November 2016), versus 535,000 net adds in 2015, LRG found.

“The pay-TV market has seen significant change in the past two years, with the introduction of Internet-delivered services, and share shifts among traditional providers that are driven as much by providers’ decisions as by changes in consumer demand,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG said in a statement. “When analyzing the pay-TV market, it is now essential to include Internet-delivered services as part of the industry, just as it was important to include satellite and Telco services when those new forms of delivery were introduced.”