Major U.S. Pay TV Operators Lose 255,000 Subscribers in 3Q 2016

By Milos Pavlovic
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Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG) found that the eleven largest pay-TV providers in the US — representing about 95% of the market — lost about 255,000 net video subscribers in 3Q 2016, compared to a loss of about 210,000 subscribers in 3Q 2015.

The top pay-TV providers account for 93.65 million subscribers — with the top six cable companies having 48.8 million video subscribers, satellite TV companies having 34.4 million subscribers (including over 900,000 from DISH’s Internet-delivered Sling TV), and the top telephone companies having 10.5 million subscribers.

Other key findings for the quarter include:

  • The top six cable companies lost about 90,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2016 — compared to a loss of about 170,000 subscribers in 3Q 2015
  • Top cable MSOs losses were the fewest in any third quarter since 2006
  • Satellite TV providers added 207,000 subscribers in 3Q 2016 (including gains from Sling TV) — compared to a gain of 3,000 in 3Q 2015
  • DirecTV’s net adds of 323,000 in 3Q 2016 were the most in any third quarter since 2011
  • The top phone providers lost about 375,000 video subscribers in 3Q 2016 — compared to a loss of about 45,000 subscribers in 3Q 2015
  • Over the past year, AT&T lost about 1,335,000 U-verse subscribers, while adding 1,207,000 DirecTV subscribers

“The top pay-TV providers lost about 255,000 subscribers in this year’s third quarter, a cumulative total that was about 45,000 more than in last year’s third quarter,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. “Over the past year, the top pay-TV providers (including DISH’s Sling TV) lost about 755,000 subscribers — compared to a loss of about 445,000 over the prior year.”

 Subscribers at Net Adds
Pay-TV Providers End of 3Q 2016 in 3Q 2016
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Cable Companies
 Comcast 22,428,000 32,000
 Charter 17,275,000 (37,000)
 Altice 3,598,000 (41,000)
 Mediacom 834,000 (8,000)
 Cable ONE 329,386 (9,588)
 Other major private company* 4,305,000 (25,000)
Total Top Cable 48,769,386 (88,588)

Satellite TV Companies (DBS)
 DirecTV 20,777,000 323,000
 DISH** 13,643,000 (116,000)
Total DBS 34,420,000 207,000

Phone Companies
 Verizon FiOS 4,673,000 36,000
 AT&T U-verse 4,544,000 (325,000)
 Frontier^ 1,245,000 (85,000)
Total Top Phone 10,462,000 (374,000)
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Total Top Pay-TV Providers 93,651,386 (255,588)