Sling TV added 240K subscribers in Q3, Leichtman estimates

Sling TV
Leichtman Research estimates that Sling TV added 240,000 subscribers in the third quarter. (Image: Sling TV)

Leichtman Research Group released third-quarter subscriber data for the 10 largest pay TV operators. While most of the numbers aren’t surprising to anyone who has been tracking the various quarterly earnings releases, there are a few interesting estimates.

For one, Leichtman pegged Dish Network has having lost 224,000 linear satellite TV subscribers in Q3, while picking up 240,000 customers for its virtual Sling TV service. Dish, of course, said it gained 16,000 U.S. customers in the quarter, but it never parses out performances for its individual pay TV platforms. 

All told, Leichtman said that virtual MVPD services launched by satellite operators Dish and DirecTV added 536,000 customers. However, analysts dismiss the impact these low-margin services have to the bottom lines of their respective parents. 

Another notable estimate: Leichtman estimates that privately held Cox Communications lost 25,000 pay TV customers in the third quarter. An earlier estimate by research company IDC pegged Cox’s video losses at only around 5,000.

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Regardless of the guesswork, Leichtman’s more concrete numbers are troubling.

For the entire third quarter, Leichtman said the 10 largest pay TV operators controlling the 11 biggest linear platforms (remember, AT&T operates two services) lost 943,230 traditional customers. These losses surpassed those in the second quarter, a record bad one for leading MSOs, which lost 893,197 customers.

For the year, the top operators have lost nearly 2.6 million pay TV customers for traditional cable, satellite and telco services, Leichtman said.