Analyst: With pay-TV down 31K subs in Q1, 'It's not too early to get worried about cord-cutting'

With subscribers for pay-TV companies collectively down 31,000 in the first quarter, cord cutting can officially be classified by the industry as a worrisome trend.

So says media analyst Craig Moffett, who insists his research firm has remained sanguine on the topic until this just-completed round of pay-TV earnings reports, which showed subscriber losses accelerated to an all-time high of minus 0.5 percent for the last 12 months. 

Typically, an aggregate decline of 31,000 wouldn't be cause for alarm, Moffett wrote, but the first quarter is typically a growth period for pay-TV. 

"Now add to the fact that new household formation has (at least according to the Census Bureau) significantly accelerated," he added. "Those new households are nowhere to be found in the most recent pay-TV data. What already looks bad is actually even worse."

By Moffett's tally, cable operators lost 86,000 subscribers in Q1, up from 40,000 a year ago. Satellite operators, meanwhile, dropped 74,000 subs in the first quarter, with a 134,000 loss by Dish (NASDAQ: DISH) offsetting growth of 60,000 by DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV). Last year, the two companies collectively expanded their bases by 52,000 customers in the first quarter.

IPTV operators AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), meanwhile, added only 129,000 video users, down from 259,000 in Q1 2014 and 401,000 in Q1 2013.

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Related links:
Dish Network loses 134K subs in Q1, blames carriage disputes
DirecTV adds 60K U.S. subs in Q1 as revenue spikes 4% to $8.14B
Suddenlink loses only 6,400 video subs in Q1, still touting decision to cut Viacom channels