Just like traditional video distributors, virtual MVPDs had a tough first quarter in terms of subscriber losses, according to Kagan.
The media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates it was the first quarterly decline for the vMVPD segment. The services collectively lost 261,000 subscribers to finish the quarter with 9.2 million subs. Gains from Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV were offset by declines from Dish Network’s Sling TV and AT&T TV Now along with Sony's decision to shutter PlayStation Vue in January.
At the same time, Kagan tracked a 2.4% decline in traditional video subscribers during the quarter, leading the group to estimate an 11% rate of decline for 2020.
“The difficult start to the year underpins Kagan's updated forecast for video market share in the U.S. The revised outlook found that mounting unemployment and the COVID-19 economic downturn only added to the already pervasive cord cutting forces. This fueled revised expectations for online-only households to surpass combined traditional and virtual multichannel subscribers in the projections,” Kagan wrote.
Leichtman Research Group said that 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. The firm did not include YouTube TV, which didn’t disclose new subscriber totals this quarter.
Despite the declines in video subscribers, overall spending on telecommunications and video services could hold fairly steady this year. IDC predicts worldwide spending on telecommunications and pay TV services will reach nearly $1.6 trillion in 2020, a decrease of 0.8% compared to 2019. The firm said pay TV services will be boosted by the pandemic lockdown, but also affected by the economic downturn, so spending in the category is expected to decline slightly.