Hulu Live TV nears 1M subscribers as U.S. vMVPDs grew by 868,000 subscribers in Q2, analyst says

Hulu cloud DVR
Hulu's live TV service is growing fast. (Hulu)

Strategy Analytics has compiled some interesting figures including subscriber growth rates for all the major virtual MVPDs.

In all, the firm said that U.S. vMVPDs added 868,000 new subscribers during the quarter. Only two, Sling TV and DirecTV Now, publicly disclosed how many subscribers they added. Sling TV added 41,000 new subscribers, up 25.9% year over year according to Strategy Analytics, and DirecTV Now added 342,000, up an astonishing 268.4% year over year.

While those two services still account for the bulk of all vMVPD subscribers in the U.S., with more than 4 million combined, other competitors are quickly gaining ground.

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According to the firm, Hulu Live TV added 210,000 new subscribers during the second quarter and is now almost at 1 million total. The uptick during the quarter translated to 478.8% year-over-year growth.

Behind Hulu was PlayStation Vue, which added 75,000 subscribers during the quarter and is now at 745,000 total. YouTube TV is behind PlayStation after adding 60,000 subscribers during the quarter and bringing its total to 410,000. FuboTV was behind YouTube TV after adding 90,000 subscribers during the quarter and bringing its total to 325,000. And Philo rounded out the list, adding 50,000 subscribers during the quarter and bringing its total up to 150,000.

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The subscriber totals for all the vMVPDs except Sling TV and DirecTV Now are based on Strategy Analytics’ estimates. And while none of the estimated subscriber totals are yet closing in on Sling TV and DirecTV Now, Strategy Analytics predicts there could be a new top dog soon.

“While the entire vMVPD segment is growing, AT&T’s DirecTV Now deserves special notice given how rapidly it has grown in a fairly short period of time,” said Michael Goodman, director of television and media strategies, in a statement. “If it continues on its current growth trajectory it will overtake Sling TV as the largest vMVPD in early 2019.”

Cowen analyst Gregory Williams said that overall pay TV subscriber losses have stabilized (and improved during the second quarter) after the disruptions caused by deep-pocketed, “irrationally priced,” full service vMVPDs in 2017.

“With these vMVPD providers already in place, and no vMVPDs of similar stature entering the market for the foreseeable future (outside of perhaps Apple TV), we argue that Pay TV loss trends have leveled out (until Gen. Z enters the workforce in 2021). Going forward, our most recent survey data shows OTT adoption is modestly increasing yet again. All in, we should expect video losses to remain in the 3.4%-3.6% range with a bias toward the downside in 2H18,” Williams wrote in a research note.

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