Cord cutting overblown? 6 leading pay-TV operators add 37K video subs in 2015

With fourth quarter earnings reported for six leading pay-TV platforms, it appears the business could actually finish with customer growth this year despite ample hand-wringing over cord cutting.

According to FierceCable's informal tally based on earnings reports from AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), the six platforms finished 2015 by adding 37,000 video subscribers. 

For the fourth quarter, the operators added 170,000 video subs. 

This tally doesn't include data from Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) or Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), or mid-sized operators like Suddenlink Communications or Mediacom. 

Of course, the narrow gain is still cause for concern. The big "gainer" this year was Verizon FiOS, which added 178,000 video users in 2015, a sharp drop from the 422,000 added in 2014. FiOS added only 20,000 video customers in the fourth quarter.

The big decliner was AT&T's forsaken U-verse platform, which lost 304,000 video customers for the year, and a whopping 240,000 in the fourth quarter alone. Pouring its promotional energy into its newly acquired DirecTV platform these days, AT&T saw the satellite TV unit add 214,000 customers in the fourth quarter and 156,000 for the year. 

The difference-maker this year was, of course, cable. Both TWC (up 36,000 for 2015) and Charter (up 11,000) experienced growth years in video for the first time in a decade, while Comcast added 89,000 video subs in the fourth quarter to finish the year down by only 36,000.

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