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SNL Kagan: Cable Lost 1.8M Video Subs in Past 12 Months

3 Sep, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Multichannel video program distributor sub ‘doldrums’ ebb up slightly from year-over-year period

Cable TV operators lost a combined 1.8 million video subscribers in the past 12 months, while gains in telecommunication services undermined slightly ongoing softness in the multichannel video program distribution industry, according to new data from SNL Kagan.

The data underscores ongoing concerns about a mature market that is losing subscribers to alternative video sources such as subscription video-on-demand and related streaming services.

Kagan estimates, cable, satellite and telco video providers collectively lost 366,000 video subscriptions in the second quarter (ended June 30). The figure was softer than the first quarter and nearly a 11% improvement to the loss posted in the year-ago quarter.

The industry remains slightly below its mid-2012 levels, placing the current U.S. multichannel market in a subscriber doldrums. The combined cable, telco and satellite subs counts were more than 200,000 lower than in the second quarter of 2012.

Cable doubled its loss from the previous quarter, but the estimated decline of 607,000 was a slight improvement from the year-ago measure. The industry's basic video tally has dropped by 1.8 million in the trailing 12 months, and cable's share of the combined customers slipped to 55.3%.

The telcos again offered the brightest outlook. The phone companies continued to take video share from the cable and satellite operators despite uneven expansion in the first half of 2013. The telco segment, with more than 400,000 net adds, gained significantly more subscribers than in the year-ago quarter and topped 10.7 million total video customers as of mid-2013.

The satellite segment remains the most vulnerable due to its singular video offering (only third-party phone and broadband services). The industry continues to meet resistance above the 34 million-subscriber level, illustrated by a drop of 162,000 in the quarter. While it was the single-largest quarterly decline, the satellite segment is still slightly ahead of its year mark with a small increase over the trailing 12 months.

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