Leading US pay-TV ops add 101,000 subs in 4Q 2014

DetailsJoseph O'Halloran | 06 March 2015

It may have been a tough full year for the US pay-TV industry but Strategy Analytics has revealed at least a good end to 2014.

In its report, Digital Television Operator Performance Benchmarking: North America, the analyst found that top US pay-TV operators added 101,000 new subs during the fourth quarter, reversing declining trends seen during the second and third quarters.

directvbasketThe 19 tracked operators in the US added 101,000 subscribers while operators in Canada added 5,000. In the US, the increase in the fourth quarter brought the total tracked subscribers to 96.1 million, representing more than 95% of the total US market. Digital subscriber growth has continued throughout 2014, ending the year at nearly 95 million.

It was a mixed bag for the three core pay-TV platforms. Strategy Analytics found that during 2014, the US satellite market grew by only 20,000 subscribers with DirecTV had a strong year while Dish Network suffered losses. IPTV operators in the US added 1.16 million new subscribers in 2014. Verizon added 387,000 new subs and arch-rival AT&T, which sold its Connecticut assets to Frontier, added 478,000. Yet cable was a big loser with 195,000 video subscribers losses in the fourth quarter taking the total to 1.18 million during the year.

"2014 started and finished strong, with growth in pay-TV subscribers in both the first and fourth quarters," stated Jason Blackwell, Strategy Analytics' director of service provider strategies, looking at 2014 and casting his eye on the near future. "The middle of the year was a bit rough, with subscriber losses in the second and third quarters. Overall, the year was flat, with our tracked operators losing only 4,000 subscribers. Cord-cutting remains a threat, and there are new options for consumers that have deployed during the first quarter of 2015, specifically the Sling TV service from Dish Network. We also expect to see more standalone services from HBO, Showtime, and others, so 2015 will be challenging for the traditional pay-TV vendors."