US pay-TV has best quarter in two years

Michelle Clancy
| 21 May 2014

The results are in for the first quarter of the year, and Leichtman Research Group has found that the 13 largest multi-channel video providers in the US representing about 94% of the market added about 260,000 net video subscribers during the period. Evidence of cord-cutting in favour of over-the-top (OTT) options is minimal, at best.

That's encouraging, comparing to a gain of about 230,000 video subscribers the year before, and is the largest cumulative net addition for pay-TV since the first quarter of 2012.

Together, the top multichannel video providers account for nearly 95.8 million subscribers with the top nine cable companies having 50.4 million video subscribers, satellite TV companies having 34.4 million subscribers and top telephone companies having about 11 million subscribers.

As always, some sectors fared better than others. The top nine cable companies lost about 50,000 video subscribers in the first quarter of 2014 a loss, yes, but the smallest quarterly loss since the first quarter of 2009.

Satellite TV providers added 52,000 subscribers in 1Q 2014 staying fairly flat compared to a gain of 57,000 in 1Q 2013.

And IPTV tapered off its historically impressive gains: the top telephone providers added 258,000 video subscribers in the quarter, compared to 401,000 net additions in 1Q 2013. Verizon FiOS's net adds in 1Q 2014 were the fewest in any quarter since 2Q 2006.

Overall, the signs point in the right direction for pay-TV. "In the first quarter of 2014, the multichannel video industry had its best quarter in two years, and cable providers had the fewest video losses in any quarter in the past five years," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group. "Industry-wide net losses of about 40,000 subscribers over the past year were nearly identical to losses over the prior year."