Cable, satellite shine as subs inch up for US pay-TV leaders | Media Analysis | Business
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19 may lead pic 1000pixA study from the Leichtman Research Group (LRG) has found that the 13 largest pay-TV providers in the US — representing about 95% of the market — added about 10,000 net video subscribers in Q1 2016.

Yet behind this good news was the fact that this compared with a gain of 170,000 customers in the corresponding period of 2015.

LRG’s data showed that the top US pay-TV providers now account for 94.2 million subscribers. The leading nine cable companies having 49.1 million video subscribers; satellite TV companies 34.0 million subscribers — including about 665,000 from DISH’s Internet-delivered Sling TV; and the top telephone companies having 11.1 million subscribers.

Looking at the pay-TV market sectors in more depth, LRG revealed bright news for cable. The nine cable leaders added about 50,000 video subscribers in Q1 2016 — compared with a loss of about 65,000 subscribers in Q1 2015. This was the first time since 2008 that top cable MSOs had reported net gains in a first quarter. Comcast alone added 53,000 subs in the quarter to total 22.4 million while Cablevision shed 15,000 customers to end up on 2.579 million.

It was also a good first quarter for the satellite sector where subs leapt by 305,000, including gains from Sling TV. This compared with a gain of 95,000 in Q1 2015. When not including gains from Sling TV, DBS providers added about 175,000 subscribers in Q1 2016, compared to a loss of 74,000 in Q1 2015, and DirecTV’s net adds of 328,000 in Q1 2016 were more than in any quarter since Q1 2009.

By contrast, the leading IPTV providers lost 344,000 video subscribers in Q1 2016, a huge turnaround on the gain of 140,000 subscribers in Q1 2015. Indicating the flood of customers from its IPTV offering to the recently acquired, DirectTV, AT&T U-verse’s 380,000 net losses in Q1 2016 were the most losses ever in a quarter by any provider.

“While DirecTV and top cable providers had a comparatively strong quarter in Q1 2016, their gains were largely offset by a historically weak quarter for AT&T U-verse,” said LRG president and principal analyst Bruce Leichtman. “Overall, the traditionally strong first quarter for the pay-TV industry was tepid this year. Despite slight gains in the quarter, net adds in Q1 2016 were down by about 160,000 from a year ago.”

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