There were 119,000 fewer multichannel TV subscribers in the US in Q3 2010 than was the case a year ago, the second consecutive quarter of declines, according to SNL Kagan research. Cable MSOs were the prime losers as their share of video subscribers dropped to 60.3% as compared to 62.9% in Q3 2009.
Q2 2010 marked the first quarterly decline in the multichannel subscriber base in the history of pay TV. Overall, the multichannel subscriber base has fallen 2.3% in the past two quarters and now stands at about 100 million subscriptions; that’s without eliminating overlap from duplicate subscriptions, SNL Kagan notes.
Telcos continue to make inroads into TV/video land, however. Their market share has grown to 6.4% from 4.7% in the year ago quarter. The subscriber base for direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services also grew but slightly less than 1% over the past year to account for 33.2% of the total.
Service providers cite a variety of causes for the decline, including the tough economic times, but SNL Kagan analysts say that new competition from over-the-top (OTT) services should not be dismissed.
“Operators are pointing to a continuation of the forces that pushed subscriber gains into negative territory in the second quarter, including the weak economy, high unemployment and elevated churn of former over-the-air households,” senior analyst Ian Olgeirson was quoted as saying. “However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss the impact of over-the-top substitution on video subscriber performance, particularly after seeing declines during the period of the year that tends to produce the largest subscriber gains due to seasonal shifts back to television viewing and subscription packages.”