Nine-tenths of US pay-TV firms bleed subs in Q2 2015


Joseph O'Halloran

| 10 August 2015

In yet more bad news for the US pay-TV industry, the latest informitv Multiscreen Index has revealed that the nation's top ten operators lost over 400,000 digital television subscribers in total in the second quarter of 2015.

Between them, the top ten services account for 87.50 million homes in the United States, compared to 87.74 million a year ago, or 87.34 million the year before that. The analyst adds that the Q2 decline, mirrored elsewhere, wipes out a small gain earlier in 2015.

Looking at individual players, the survey showed that in the quarter satellite provider DirecTV lost the most, with customer numbers plummeting by 133,000 to 20.28 million. This, though, was offset by gains from the PanAmericana operation, increasing the DirecTV group total by 34,000 to 33.14 million. DTH rival DISH Network lost 81,000 subscribers, after including its Sling TV service, which had 169,000 subscribers at the end of March, ending June with a total of 13.93 million.

IPTV player AT&T, which acquired DirecTV during the quarter, reported a net loss of 23,000 television subscribers for its U-verse service. By contract fellow telco giant Verizon added 26,000 television subscribers, although that represented the smallest quarterly increase since the service launched.

Things were just as bad in the cable TV sector where Comcast lost 69,000 television subscribers, ending June with 22.31 million, 151,000 less than a year previously, and Time Warner Cable lost 45,000 subscribers, with a total loss of 237,000 over 12 months, taking its total to 10.77 million. Charter, Cablevision, Mediacom and Suddenlink lost over 75,000 subscribers between them, with a total loss of more than 242,000 over 12 months.

"With regular reports of television subscriber losses, it appears that many of these services are struggling to maintain customer numbers in a mature competitive market," says Dr William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index. "The figures must be viewed in perspective. The overall loss is less than 0.5% of their combined subscriber base."