US pay-TV providers lose 5MN subs in 2020 | Media Analysis | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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Leichtman Research Group has become the latest analyst to report just how bad 2020 was for the US pay-TV industry, finding that the country’s largest providers lost about 5.12 million net video subscribers in 2020, around 325,000 more than in 2019.
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The analyst’s regular investigation of the firms that represent about 95% of the market revealed that the top pay-TV providers now account for about 81.3 million subscribers, with the top seven cable companies having 43.9 million video subscribers, satellite TV services having about 21.8 million subscribers, the top telephone companies having 7.9 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting Internet-delivered (vMVPD) pay-TV services having 7.7 million subscribers.

Looking at the churn of customers across the platforms, satellite TV services lost about 3.44 million subscribers in 2020, compared with a loss of about 3.7 million subscribers in 2019. However losses were worse for the cable industry with the leading seven cable provider losing about 1.915 million video subscribers in 2020, compared with a loss of about 1.560 million subscribers in 2019. Losses were better for the telco TV providers - down 405,000 video subscribers in 2020, compared with around 630,000 a year earlier.

There was a brighter story with the vMVPD services where the likes of Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV (pictured), AT&T TV NOW and fuboTV added about 640,000 subscribers in 2020. Yet this compared with 1.095 million net adds in 2019. Not including the vMVPDs, the traditional pay-TV services would have lost about 5.765 million subscribers in 2020 – compared with a net loss of about 5.890 million in 2019.

The Leichtman study used AT&T as a key example of how the industry was progressing. In 2020 the comms giant posted a net loss of about 3.26 million subscribers across its four pay-TV services (DIRECTV, AT&T U-verse, AT&T TV, and AT&T TV NOW) in 2020, 835,000 fewer than in 2020. AT&T Premium TV services, not including the vMVPD service AT&T TV NOW, lost 15.3% of subscribers in 2020 – compared with a 4.6% loss among all other traditional pay-TV services.