Major US pay-TV providers lose 150,000 subs in Q3 2014
Joseph O'Halloran
| 15 November 2014
As the glut of leading pay-TV firms reporting financial results comes to an end, a leading analyst has concluded that Q3 2014 will go down as one of toughest quarters the industry has faced.

According to data from the Leichtman Research Group (LRG), the thirteen largest pay-TV providers in the US — collectively representing about 95% of the market, with 95.3 million subscribers — lost about 150,000 net video subscribers in 3Q 2014, compared with a loss of about 25,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2013. Worryingly, this amounts to the highest number of net losses than in any previous third quarter.

Looking at where the hits took place, the cable industry fared worst of all with LRG calculating that the top nine cable companies losing about 440,000 out a total of nearly 49.5 million video subscribers in 3Q 2014. However year on year this compared favourable to the quarter a year previously which saw a loss of about 600,000 subscribers in 3Q 2013. Time Warner Cable reflected this trend losing 182,000 subscribers in 3Q 2014, compared with a loss of 304,000 in 3Q 2013.

Even though absolute falls were lower, the satellite sector was also on a downward trajectory with subs down 40,000 in 3Q 2014 leading to a total of just over 34.2 million. This loss compared with a gain of 174,000 in 3Q 2013. DirecTV alone lost 28,000 subscribers in 3Q 2014 -- compared to a gain of 139,000 subscribers in 3Q 2013

By contrast, the leading IPTV providers in the telco sector added 330,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2014. Yet this compared with 400,000 net additions in 3Q 2013.

Even though Q3 was grim, the industry should actually pick up in the next quarter insisted Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst of Leichtman Research Group. "The pay-TV industry is characterised by seasonality," he suggested. "While the first and second quarters of 2014 showed slight industry-wide improvements over 2013, the third quarter was down from a year ago," "If recent history is an indicator, the pay-TV industry will follow the fourth quarter trend, and close 2014 with a modest subscriber gain in the quarter."