AT&T's 382K subscriber drop barely dents 1.7 percent rise in overall pay-TV market

AT&T (NYSE: T) and other pay-TV providers in saturated markets like North America and Europe are continuing to see subscribers drop services, but worldwide, the number of subscribers rose 1.68 percent in the first quarter of 2016 due to huge gains in the Asia-Pacific region, a new report finds.

While AT&T's U-verse service lost 382,000 subscribers in the first quarter, the highest loss among U.S. providers, its newly acquired satellite service DirecTV added 328,000 subs, offsetting that drop.

The latest informitv Multiscreen Index surveyed 100 of the top pay-TV providers worldwide.

In North America, growth is still apparent, though much slower. "North, Central and South America still contribute over a third of the subscribers in the index," said Dr. Sue Farrell, an analyst with informitv. "They gained just 0.54 million subscribers, compared to 1.41 million in the first quarter a year ago."

informitv Q1 subscriber growth

Q1 subscriber growth by region and type of pay-TV service, in millions. (Source: informitv)

Overall, the top 10 pay-TV providers in the United States saw a gain of 18,000 subscribers in the quarter.

The Asia-Pacific region added 5.35 million subscribers, with six India-based operators making up the bulk of that number at a combined 4.71 million additions.

The continuing growth of multiscreen options could have an effect even in regions where traditional pay-TV is making huge inroads. The quarterly index noted that 81 percent of the 400 million homes covered by the pay-TV providers that informitv studied have access to "some form of multiscreen viewing" although adoption and use of those services is still much lower than that of pay-TV services.

The second quarter promises more interesting results, at least in the United States. New Charter, for example, will likely see 40,000 subscribers drop TV service, according to a UBS research note. But Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) could see an upward bounce in subs in the wake of the two-month strike by Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) wireline workers in the Northeast.

Furthermore, it's becoming clearer that many U.S. subscribers are supplementing their pay-TV services with SVOD options, choosing to shave the cord rather than cut it completely. A recent Strategy Analytics report noted that nearly 60 percent of U.S. homes with broadband access subscribe to a subscription video on demand service.

For more:
- see the release
- see this Advanced Television article

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