LRG: leading US pay-TV providers lose nearly 3MN subs in 2018 | Pay-TV | News | Rapid TV News
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In the latest damning report on the US pay-TV market, research from Leichtman Research Group (LRG) has found that the largest pay-TV providers in the lost about 2.875 million net video subscribers in 2018.
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This means that in the year, the leading companies — which account for about 95% of the market, 89.1 million subscribers – lost nearly twice as many as they did a year earlier, a pro forma loss that LRG calculated to be about 1.510 million subscribers. Overall, the top pay-TV providers lost 3.1% of subscribers in 2018 compared with a loss of 1.6% in 2017.

The research found that overall at the end of 2018 the top six cable companies in the US had 47 million video subscribers, satellite TV services 29.1 million subscribers, the top telephone companies nine million subscribers and the top Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services nine million subscribers.

Yet LRG discovered mixed fortunes for firms in each of the different platform areas. Satellite TV services lost about 2.360 million subscribers in 2018, compared with a loss of about 1.550 subscribers in 2017. In the area, DIRECTV lost 1,236,000 subscribers in 2018 – compared to a loss of 554,000 subscribers in 2017. In 2018, DBS services cumulatively lost 7.5% of video subscribers – compared to a loss of 4.7% in 2017.

In cable, LRG calculated that the top six cable companies lost about 910,000 video subscribers in 2018. This compared with a loss of about 680,000 subscribers in 2017. In 2018, the top cable providers cumulatively lost 1.9% of video subscribers, 0.5 percentage points more than that in 2017. The top telephone companies had better fortune, losing about 245,000 video subscribers in 2018; a year earlier this figure was about 885,000. Despite an horrific fourth quarter, AT&T U-verse had a particularly good 2018 adding added 47,000 subscribers in 2018 when for 2017 is had lost 624,000. Cumulatively, the leading telcos lost 2.6% of video subscribers, compared with a loss of 8.7% in 2017.

Even though vMVPD services added consumers, this rate of growth slowed during 2018. Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW added about 640,000 subscribers in 2018 yet a year earlier they had put on about 1.600 million customers. Subscribers to these vMVPD services increased by 19% in 2018 – compared to an increase of 90% in 2017.

“Since the industry’s peak in 1Q 2012, pay-TV subscribers for the top providers have declined by about 6 million,” explained Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group. This reflects a decline of about 10 million subscribers for traditional services, offset by the addition of about 4 million subscribers for the publicly reporting vMVPD services.” LRG calculated that traditional pay-TV services, excluding vMVPDs, lost about 3.515 million subscribers in 2018. This contrasted with a loss of about 3.110 million in 2017.