Verizon and Snap Q3 Earnings Foretell Coming Hard Times For the Media Biz

Recession graphic
(Image credit: Tradimo News)

You don't have to look hard these days to find a downer report about the fate of linear television. 

And only a few key earnings calls into the Q3 reporting cycle, the news seems likely to get worse. 

Update: Several hours after this story was filed, Google announced that YouTube had experienced its first quarterly decline in ad sales ever, with Q3 revenue dropping nearly 2% to $7.07 billion. You can read that story here

As the first major pay TV operator to offer third-quarter customer metrics, Verizon reported the loss of around 95,000 Fios TV customers. As elegantly showcased by Lightshed Partners, that represented a surge of around 8.8% over the circa-87,000 customers lost to Verizon Fios TV in the second quarter. 

The rate of cord-cutting also increased by a similar .8% rate from Q1 - Q2 for the wireless giant, after it had held largely steady for 18 months (see graphic). 

With Comcast and Charter Communications set to deliver their Q3 reports later this week, expect video cord cutting to quite possibly re-emerge as a key issue. Comcast has lost 512,000 and 520,000 customers, respectively, in the first and second quarters of 2022. 

Lightshed Partners graphic on Verizon Fios TV cord cutting

(Image credit: Lightshed Partners)

Meanwhile, Lightshed analyst Richard Greenfield triangulated another early-Q3-season earnings report from Snap Inc., during which strong concerns were expressed about the current advertising sales market. 

Snap Co-Founder and CEO Evan Spiegel spoke at length about navigating "this difficult macro environment that has impacted our advertising business over the past few quarters." 

Responding to both Verizon's and Snap's metrics, Greenfield tweeted over the weekend, "Not a good start to earnings for anyone in the broadcast or cable TV network biz," noting that the Snap report signals a meaningful "pullback in brand ad spend in Q4 as recession fears build." 

Tracking the executive pessimism on its latest "Earnings Scorecard," Lightshed also  found that, among the 69 companies it tracks, mentions of the term "recession" increased to 60 in the second quarter vs. just two in the third quarter of 2021. 

Observing the behavior of one of the video business' biggest advertisers, Procter & Gamble, during its Q3 call last week, we didn't find a mention of the "R" word even once. 

But the company did discuss a "very challenging cost environment, with CFO Andre Schulten noting, "When you think about our marketing spend, we estimate there is still significant opportunity to optimize in the ability to reach consumers more broadly and more effectively at significantly lower cost as our digital reach increases." ▪️

Daniel Frankel

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!