Deeper Dive—How YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV and others stack up after Q2

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After a prolonged period of uncertainty about subscriber totals for virtual MVPDs, 2020 has been the year of transparency for streaming TV services.

FuboTV has provided multiple updates throughout the year and Hulu + Live TV, under Disney’s control, has consistently given updates on its live streaming service. Even Google dropped a total for YouTube TV into its fourth-quarter earnings. Last week, Philo investor Discovery revealed the first official subscriber total for the lower-cost entertainment-focused vMVPD and shot it up our list past AT&T TV Now.

After reviewing second-quarter earnings – and relying on some new estimates from media industry analyst firm MoffettNathanson – here’s how the major U.S. vMVPDs stack up as of June 30, 2020.

Hulu + Live TV

Q2 2020 subscriber total: 3.4 million

Q1 2020 subscriber total: 3.3 million

Hulu + Live TV’s growth has slowed substantially from 2019, when MoffettNathanson estimated that the service added 1.5 million subscribers. If the service maintains its current rate of growth, it will add 400,000 subscribers in 2020. Of course, given the continued losses for most major MVPDs and vMVPDs, any growth at all is a good thing.

YouTube TV

Q2 2020 subscriber total: 2.5 million

Q1 2020 subscriber total: 2.3 million

YouTube TV added another 200,000 subscribers during the second quarter, based on an estimate from MoffettNathanson. However, the service ended the reporting period by instituting a surprisingly high $15 per month rate increase. That price hike stirred a lot of customer frustration and may not help much with margins. MoffettNathanson estimated that YouTube TV pays $61 per month wholesale in content costs, meaning that even after its price increase, Google’s streaming TV only pulls in $4 per month in gross profit per subscriber.

Sling TV

Q2 2020 subscriber total: 2.25 million

Q1 2020 subscriber total: 2.31 million

While competitors like YouTube TV and fuboTV were raising prices, Dish Network’s Sling TV was handing out one-year price guarantees and locking in promising distribution agreements on platforms like Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Flex. Sling TV lost more subscribers in the second quarter but the moves it made early in July could mean better results for the third quarter.

Philo

Q2 2020 subscriber total: 750,000

Q1 2020 subscriber total: 580,000

Philo now has nearly 750,000 subscribers – less than three years after launch – and the service said it has grown 300% year over year. The company added that, based on other’s reporting and its partners’ data, it’s the fastest growing MVPD in the first half of 2020. According to MoffettNathanson’s estimate, the service added 340,000 subscribers throughout the first six months of the year. So, it appears that Philo’s relatively low $20/month price point and avoidance of live sports (which have been seriously disrupted by the pandemic) are working to its advantage.

AT&T TV Now

Q2 2020 subscriber total: 720,000

Q1 2020 subscriber total: 788,000

AT&T TV Now just notched its seventh straight quarter of subscriber losses and it’s highly likely that streak will continue. During AT&T’s most recent earnings call, CEO John Stankey said that AT&T TV – the company’s new, primary linear TV product – has begun to offset premium video subscriber losses, which refer to DirecTV and U-verse but not AT&T TV Now.

FuboTV

Q2 2020 subscriber total: 286,126

Q1 2020 subscriber total: 287,316

FuboTV, which is currently filing with the SEC for a follow-on public stock offering, has lost close to 30,000 subscribers (or nearly 10% of its base) since the beginning of the year. However, with the live sports returning, the company has set a fairly aggressive growth target for the third quarter and expects to close out September with 340,000-350,000 total subscriptions.

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