The informitv Multiscreen Index shows that the ten leading pay-television operators in the United States collectively lost 20,600 subscribers in the last quarter of 2014.
These figures compare with a loss of 45,000 the previous quarter. Over the year, they gained 82,200 subscribers, taking their combined total to 87.67 million.
Cable operators were, as ever, the losers, collectively losing more than 800,000 digital television subscribers in 2014. Notably, Comcast gained just 7,000 digital television subscribers in the last quarter, but lost 194,000 in the course of the year. Time Warner Cable lost 38,000 over the quarter and 408,000 over the year. Charter, Cablevision, Mediacom and Suddenlink collectively declined by 200,800 in 2014.
Telcos meanwhile gained 865,000. AT&T sold its Connecticut wireline operations to Frontier, including around 197,000 U-verse TV subscribers, but net additions of 73,000 subscribers left it with 125,000 fewer than the previous quarter. Verizon gained 116,000 FiOS television subscribers in the last three months of 2014.
As for satellite, DirecTV added 149,000 subscribers in the United States in the last quarter, gaining 99,000 over the year, while DISH Network lost 79,000 during 2014.
In the same quarter, and in stark contrast to the incumbents, Netflix gained another 1.43 million paid members in the United States, taking its total to 39.79 million.
"With intense competition in the American market, the telcos are continuing to gain television customers at the expense of cable companies," said William Cooper, editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index. "Although the total number of subscribers has remained relatively static, customer churn means that the larger operators have to sign up a couple of million new customers between them every quarter just to maintain their figures."