Comcast's video subscriber losses slowing as vMVPD momentum stalls, analyst says

Comcast
Scotiabank said that Comcast’s programming cost inflation year to date is 3%. (Comcast)

Comcast lost 95,000 video subscribers in the third quarter but that’s a significant improvement over the 134,000 it lost a year ago. One analyst believes it could be a sign of slowing virtual MVPD momentum.

Scotiabank’s Jeff Fan said factors including price could be contributing to the stall-out for vMVPDs.

“We believe this may be a sign that vMVPD growth is starting to plateau, particularly as vMVPD services (AT&T’s DTV Now) have begun to increase prices,” wrote Fan in a research note.

Charter this quarter also improved its video subscriber losses, giving back 66,000 as compared with 104,000 during the year-ago quarter.

AT&T, which owns and operates DirecTV Now, the biggest vMVPD behind Dish Network’s Sling TV, saw its streaming TV subscriber growth slow significantly this quarter. DirecTV Now added just 49,000 new subscribers during the quarter after pulling in 342,000 new subscribers in the previous quarter.

RELATED: Dish’s Sling TV is fading among all the vMVPD competition, analyst says

Dish has yet to announce its third-quarter results for Sling TV. But some analysts don’t see a promising future for the pioneering vMVPD.

Macquarie Capital analyst Amy Yong sees a near future where Dish’s core satellite TV subscriber losses continue to mount and growth for Sling TV begins to stall. She predicts Dish will lose 1.8 million satellite subscribers in 2019 and 1.7 million in 2020. Meanwhile, total Sling TV subscribers will grow to 2.7 million in 2019 and 2.9 million in 2020.

While Sling TV has maintained a fairly low entry-level price for streaming TV, competitors like DirecTV Now and YouTube TV has recently increased their pricing, which may have something to do with offsetting programming costs.

Meanwhile, Scotiabank sees improvement in that area for Comcast. The firm said that Comcast’s programming cost inflation year to date is 3%, which is a “significant shift” from low-double-digit growth Comcast saw in 2017.

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