Top ten US pay-TV providers lose 877,000 subs in Q3 2018
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Joseph O'Halloran
| 07 November 2018

The latest informitv Multiscreen Index has provided more bad news for the traditional TV industry in the United States with the global index of the leading 100 pay-TV providers showing that the top ten providers in the country bleeding subs in their third quarter.

The top 10 services for the United States in the Multiscreen Index now have 82.72 million television customers between them, accounting for slightly less than 70% of television homes. Subscriber numbers are as reported by service providers, rather than analyst estimates. informitv does not include Cox Communications I its top 10 as it does not report subscriber numbers.

The index calculated that the top 10 service providers in the United States collectively lost over 877,000 television subscribers in the third quarter of 2018 with the two satellite services suffering the largest losses, shedding 726,000 between them, while their online offerings gained 89,000. DISH Network lost 367,000 satellite television subscribers, even worse than the 192,000 lost in the previous quarter, making a loss of 2.92 million in 12 months. For its part, DIRECTV lost 359,000 satellite television subscribers, compared with 286,000 the previous quarter and 251,000 in the third quarter the previous year, with a total loss of 980,000 in 12 months.

Comcast cable television customers declined 96,000, compared with 136,000 the previous quarter, marking its sixth consecutive quarterly loss, down 363,000 year on year to 20.98 million. Rival cableco Charter Spectrum lost 66,000, compared to a loss of 73,000 the previous quarter and 104,000 in the third quarter the prior year while even though the company returned to profit in Q3 2018, Altice USA lost 28,000 between Optimum and Suddenlink, compared with 24,000 the previous quarter and 32,000 a year before.

In the IPTV world, the Verizon FiOS service shed 63,000 television subscribers, increasing its rate of losses, while AT&T U-verse added 13,000, which was 11,000 fewer than it added the previous quarter.

It was mixed news for the online providers. Sling TV gained 26,000 online subscribers in Q3 to total of 2.37 million, even though steady gains in recent quarters have not made up for the loss of satellite customers. Similarly, DIRECTV NOW added 63,000 online subscribers, for a total of 1.81 million, but the quarterly gain was down on the average additions of 340,000 over the previous three quarters.

“The traditional satellite, cable and telco services lost approaching a million subscribers in the last quarter,” observed Dr William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index. “The satellite services have lost 1.58 million subscribers between them so far this year.”