U.S. video subscriber losses topped 2M in Q1: Leichtman

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According to Leichtman, the top pay TV providers account for 83.9 million subscribers. (Getty/FS-Stock)

U.S. pay TV providers combined for a net loss of 2,065,000 video subscribers during the quarter, according to calculations from the Leichtman Research Group.

The net loss – which the firm said came from providers representing 95% of the market – was double the damage from the year-ago quarter, when providers recorded a pro forma net loss of about 1,025,000 subscribers. Leichtman said the increase was due in part to new service connects slowing down.

“Pay-TV net losses of over 2 million subscribers in 1Q 2020 were more than in any previous quarter,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, in a statement. “The record net losses were partly related to the impact of the coronavirus, but do not solely reflect consumers’ dropping services. Several providers cited a decrease in connects as a key component of net losses in the quarter, rather than an increase in disconnects.”

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According to Leichtman, the top pay TV providers account for 83.9 million subscribers: the top seven cable companies have 45.2 million, the top satellite TV services have 24.1 million, the top telephone companies have 8.2 million and the top publicly reporting virtual MVPDs have 6.4 million.

As has been the case for several quarters now, satellite providers (particularly DirecTV) accounted for the bulk of net video subscriber losses. Satellite TV services lost about 1,030,000 subscribers in the first quarter, up from 810,000 subscribers one year ago. DirecTV lost 897,000 and Dish Network lost 132,000.

The top seven cable companies lost about 595,000 video subscribers, up from about 335,000 one year ago. Comcast took the most damage, losing 409,000 during the previous quarter. Charter followed with a net loss of 70,000.

The top telephone companies lost about 125,000 video subscribers in first quarter, up from a net loss of about 105,000 subscribers one year ago. According to Leichtman, AT&T U-verse held steady but Verizon Fios lost 84,000 and Frontier lost 39,000.

Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV and AT&T TV Now combined for a net loss of about 320,000 subscribers in the first quarter, as Hulu’s net gain of 100,000 wasn’t enough to offset continued losses for AT&T TV Now and Sling TV.