Cord-cutting surged to a record in Q2 ’19, with pay-TV providers that account for 93% of the industry losing just over 1.5 million subscribers, according to Leichtman Research Group. The loss is up from 420K in Q2 ’18. As usual, satellite providers were responsible for the majority of the losses, with DirecTV losing 778K subscribers in the quarter and Dish losing 79K. The combined drop was nearly double the 480K lost in Q2 ’18.
The biggest seven cable TV operators lost a combined 455K subscribers in Q2 ’19 compared to a loss of 275K a year ago.
Overall LRG said this was the fourth consecutive quarter of record pay-TV subscriber losses. In the past 4 quarters the biggest providers have lost over 5 million subscribers, nearly 5x the amount they lost in the comparable earlier 4 quarters. LRG noted that satellite providers have been focusing more on acquiring and retaining profitable subscribers, a trend that’s also true for Comcast and other big cable TV operators.
AT&T has slightly fewer video subscribers between its DirecTV and U-verse services than Comcast now has. Until Q2 ’18 AT&T was aggressively promoting its DirecTV Now virtual pay-TV operator to offset losses in its traditional services, but price hikes and scaled back marketing led to a drop of 168K quarterly subscribers for DirecTV Now (which is also being confusingly renamed AT&T TV Now). AT&T is continuing to figure out how to optimize all of its video assets.
Including DirecTV Now and Sling TV the top pay-TV providers now have around 86.6 million video subscribers, a drop of approximately 6 million subscribers in the past 2 years (this doesn’t account for subscribers to other virtual operators like YouTube TV, Hulu Live, etc.).
More disruption is coming to the industry as direct-to-consumer services from Disney, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal and others come to market and present viewers with more choices. Disney, which announced a $13 per month bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ last week will put a brighter spotlight on expensive traditional pay-TV bundles, where many channels have little viewership.
Topics: Leichtman Research Group