Cable makes big market share gains amid overall retrenchment in pay TV


As the overall pay-TV industry los around 730,000 subscribers in the second quarter, cable operators made significant market-share gains in terms of video subscribers, according to a report released earlier this week by Evercore ISI.

According to the firm, cable’s video subscriber market share increased from 53.7 percent in the second quarter of 2015 to 54.1 percent in the second quarter of 2016, marking its biggest leap in more than a decade of retrenchment. 

Driven by AT&T’s migration of video services from U-Verse to DirecTV, the telco sector supplied the bulk of the attrition, losing 518,000 pay-TV customers. DirecTV’s gains in Q2, meanwhile, only served to offset Dish Network’s huge losses in satellite TV services, with that sector only adding 13,000 customers.

Cable, meanwhile, only lost 227,000 video subs — its best second-quarter subscriber performance in years. 

“All the cable operators showed improvement versus last year’s second quarter,” said Evercore analyst Vijay Jayant. “Comcast showed the biggest improvement and lost only 4,000 video subscribers vs. losing 69,000 video subscribers in 2Q15. Pro forma Charter lost 152,000 video subscribers compared to 170,000 video losses in 2Q15. Cablevision performed much better than last year with only 2,000 video losses in 2Q16 vs. 16,000 video losses in 2Q15.”

Overall, the 730,000 lost pay-TV subscribers exceeded 2015’s record attrition of 610,000 by 120,000 customers. 

Cable did say declining growth in broadband subscribers in the second quarter, according to Evercore, with the sector adding 370,000 ISP customers vs. 500,000 in the second quarter of 2015. 

Still, again, cable gained in market share. 

“No major cable operator lost broadband subscribers,” Jayant said. “We estimate that the telcos lost 330,000 net broadband subs (fiber gains and DSL losses) in 2Q16, with AT&T losing 110,000 subs and Verizon losing 83,000 subs. The big surprise during the quarter was Frontier and Century Link losing 77,000 and 66,000 broadband subscribers, respectively. The DBS operators (Hughes and Viasat) together lost 9,000 subscribers. 

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