Sling TV, DirecTV Now grew shares while cable subscriber losses widened in Q2

Sling TV
DirecTV Now and Sling TV continue to grow. (Sling TV)

Virtual MVPDs Sling TV and DirecTV Now added video subscribers during the second quarter, while the top six cable operators saw their video subscriber losses grow.

In all, Leichtman Research Group said major pay TV operators lost 415,000 subscribers during the second quarter. The good news was that overall losses were the best they’ve been during a second quarter since 2014. The bad news is the top six cable companies lost about 275,000 video subscribers during the quarter—compared to a loss of about 190,000 subscribers in the second quarter of 2017.

Satellite TV services lost about 480,000 subscribers, with net losses for DirecTV higher than in any previous quarter. But AT&T added U-verse subscribers during the quarter, helping telecom TV subscriber losses trim from 270,000 one year ago to 45,000.

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In all, traditional pay TV services lost about 800,000 subscribers during the quarter. But vMVPDs Sling TV and DirecTV Now, which both publicly disclose subscriber numbers each quarter, moved in the opposite direction and added a combined 385,000 subscribers.

“The two publicly reporting Internet-delivered pay TV services now have over 4 million subscribers. This newer segment of the industry has helped to mitigate overall pay TV losses, while also contributing to a share shift from traditional services. This shift is both a product of consumers opting for more economical services, as well as changes in providers’ strategies,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, in a statement.

Indeed, vMVPDs have been rapidly growing share, according to comScore. New findings from the company say as of April 2018 5% of U.S. households with Wi-Fi internet streamed a pure-play vMVPD on their television screen, marking a 58% increase in households from 2017.

ComScore also said pure-play MVPDs comprised 10% of all time spent on over-the-top streaming in April 2018—a 53% increase year over year.

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