While the impact of virtual pay TV services improved the overall pay TV sector’s outlook on cord cutting a bit in the first quarter, cable operators had their worst first quarter in terms of subscriber losses ever, research company Kagan reported.
The top five publicly traded U.S. cable companies lost more than 235,000 subscribers in the first quarter, greatly surpassing the nearly 100,000 lost in the first quarter of 2017.
Kagan said that overall, linear cable, satellite and telco video services saw their customer bases shrink by 0.8% in the first quarter, which marked a deceleration over the year-ago time period.
And losses were halved when the virtual services of satellite operators Dish Network and DirecTV were factored in. Those services now account for 3.8 million residential accounts, Kagan reported.
The Kagan numbers follow figures released by Leichtman Research Group last week. Leichtman’s tally includes the top operators covering 95% of the market, while Kagan bills its quarterly pay TV subscriber numbers as a full assessment of the market.
With Dish’s Sling TV and DirecTV Now factored in, residential multichannel services ended the first quarter with a 76.1% penetration rate in U.S. residences.
Meanwhile, telco services Verizon Fios and AT&T U-verse saw their losses stabilize a bit in the first quarter. Attrition fell below 100,000, the best subscriber performance since the third quarter of 2015.
Satellite losses, however, accelerated from 318,000 in 2017 to 373,000.