Cord-cutting more than doubled in 2015: Pay-TV lost 385K customers, Leichtman tally finds

Despite a preliminary tally of publicly traded pay-TV companies that revealed only moderate video subscriber attrition last year, a more comprehensive count conducted by Leichtman Research found that the industry lost a significant number of customers, nearly 385,000.

An accounting conducted by FierceCable on Feb. 22 featuring seven leading publicly traded operators found video sub losses at only around 44,000 for the year. These operators included Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR), Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), DirecTV (NYSE: T), AT&T U-verse and Verizon FiOS (NYSE: VZ).

This was before Cablevision (87,000 lost subs for 2015), Cable One (down 87,067) and Mediacom (decline of 35,000) posted their numbers. 

Leichtman's study, which accounts for 95 percent of the market, also said that the combined privately held forces of Cox Communications, Bright House Networks and Suddenlink lost 153,400 video subscribers. 

While countless reports just like this one have hand-wrung back and forth on the issue of cord-cutting's veracity, this latest information seems actually somewhat conclusive — it's happening.

This year's attrition more than doubled the 150,000 customers lost in 2014 by the same group of companies, and nearly quadrupled the 100,000 lost in 2013.

And due to Dish Network's inclusion of subscriber addition for its IP-based Sling TV, Leichtman believes the hit endured by core pay-TV services was actually much worse.

With Dish losing 81,000 subs last year and DirecTV gaining 167,000, the total DBS category ended up with a net gain of 86,000 subscribers. If Sling was not factored in, Leichtman said, DBS' total losses would have been around 450,000.

For more:
- read this Leichtman Research Group press release

Related articles:
Official FC cord-cutting tally: Top publicly traded operators lost 44K video subs in 2015
Cord cutting overblown? 6 leading pay-TV operators add 37K video subs in 2015
Special report: FierceCable's fourth quarter earnings calendar