IPTVThe number of new video subscribers added to the ranks of the 13 largest pay-TV providers took a precipitous drop in 2015’s first quarter according to the latest market data from LRG (Leichtman Research Group). Representing about 95 percent of the U.S. pay-TV market, the 13 largest service providers added less than 10,000 net video subscribers, making 1Q’15 “the weakest first quarter for pay-TV net adds since LRG began tracking the industry over a decade ago,” LRG highlights in a press release.

In sharp contrast to this year’s 1Q results, these 13 pay-TV providers added more than 250,000 video subscribers in 2014’s first quarter.

Pay-TV Net Subscriber Adds
Collectively, video subscriber numbers for these 13 pay-TV providers totals nearly 95.2 million, according to LRG. The top nine cable companies have some 49.2 million. Satellite TV companies have over 34.2 million, while the top telco video providers have more than 11.7 million.

Other key takeaways from LRG’s latest published research include:

  • The top nine cable companies lost about 60,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2015 – similar to a loss of about 50,000 subscribers in 1Q 2014;
  • Satellite TV providers lost 74,000 subscribers in 1Q 2015 – compared to a gain of 52,000 in 1Q 2014;
  • Total DBS net adds in 1Q 2015 were the fewest in any first quarter, and fourth lowest in any quarter, since LRG began tracking the industry;
  • The top telephone providers added 140,000 video subscribers in 1Q 2015 – compared to 251,000 net additions in 1Q 2014;
  • Net video adds for the Telcos in 1Q 2015 were the fewest in any quarter since 4Q 2006;
  • Over the past year, pay-TV providers lost about 370,000 subscribers – compared to a loss of about 65,000 subscribers over the prior year.

“The traditionally strong first quarter for the pay-TV industry did not prove to be so this year,” LRG president and principal analyst Bruce Leichtman pointed out. “Despite virtually breaking even in the quarter, the first quarter of 2015 marked the first significant sign of an acceleration in pay-TV subscriber losses.”

“In addition to changes in consumer demand for video services spurred by competition from alternatives, the decline of about 0.4% of subscribers over the past year was also driven by several providers becoming more discerning in customer acquisition and retention, focusing on higher-value/lower-churn customers at the expense of the volume of subscribers.”

Though it lost a net 8,000 video subscribers in 1Q’15 Comcast continues to lead the ranks of U.S. pay-TV providers in terms of video subscriber numbers with a total 22.375 million. In contrast, Time-Warner, Comcast’s would-be acquisition partner, added 33,000 video subscribers on a net basis in 1Q, bringing the second-ranked cable pay-TV provider’s total pay-TV subscriber base to 11.025 million.

Among the two U.S. satellite pay-TV providers, DISH continued to lose subscribers. dropping 134,000 on a net basis in 1Q, leaving it with 13.844 million as of end-1Q. DirecTV added a net 60,000, bringing total subscribers to 20.412 million.

Among telco pay-TV providers AT&T U-verse continued to lead Verizon FiOS in market share, adding 50,000 net video subscribers in 1Q to bring its total subscriber base to 5.993 million. Verizon FiOS made progress in closing the market share gap, however, adding 90,000 subscribers to bring its total subscriber base to 5.739 million.

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