eMarketer pegs pay-TV losses at 700K subs in 2017, but figures raise questions

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The research company eMarketer's subscriber data deviates wildly from what top pay-TV operators have reported.

According to eMarketer, 300,000 U.S. pay-TV households cut the cord in 2016, and around 700,000 cable, satellite and telco homes will ditch their video service in 2017.

However, in the third quarter alone, the top 10 publicly traded U.S. pay-TV operators reported pay-TV sub losses of 230,400.

It's unclear how eMarketer arrived at its figures, which don't align with many other industry tallies. 

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Indeed, SNL Kagan—which is widely believed to publish the most comprehensive and accurate tally of quarterly subscriber data for the telecom business—reported that U.S. pay-TV operators lost 1.3 million TV customers through the first three quarters of 2016.

Thus, U.S. operators would have to report collective TV subscriber gains of 1 million for Q4 to align the two reports.

RELATED: Pay TV has lost record 1.3M subs so far this year, SNL Kagan says

FierceCable asked eMarketer if it could explain the vast discrepancy in the data. They weren't able to respond this morning.

“The bottom line is consumers love TV programming, whether it’s delivered via the internet, cable, satellite or antennas,” report co-author and eMarketer senior analyst Paul Verna said in a statement released with the report.

It's worth noting that eMarketer's numbers have been widely cited by other publications. For example, the ad industry site MediaPost headlined a story on the eMarketer report with “Cord-Cutting Continues, But With Minor Traditional TV Declines.” Industry peer MediaLife headlined its story with, “Putting a firm number on how many are cord cutting: This year pay TV services will lose 700,000 subscribers, or 0.7%.”

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