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SNL Kagan: Pay-TV Lost 2 Million Video Subscribers in 2013

19 Mar, 2014 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Cable continues to shed video subscribers, unlike satellite and telcom, as consumers embrace subscription streaming

The multichannel video program distribution industry (cable, satellite and telecom) lost a collective 2 million video subscribers in 2013, prompting the first overall industry subscriber loss, according to new data from SNL Kagan.

The research firm said that while MVPD households still hover around 100 million — a benchmark the industry has maintained for years — the industry lost a collective 251,000 subscribers when factoring in high-speed Internet, telecommunications and Comcast’s fourth-quarter uptick of 40,000 video subs.

Notable factors include growing consumer adoption of subscription streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu Plus. All three services posted significant subscriber gains in 2013.

Indeed, Kagan reported MVPDs lost about 388,000 video subscribers collectively in the fourth quarter, with basic video households now numbering about 54.4 million.

While cable operators lost the bulk of video subs, telecom operators Verizon FiOS TV and AT&Ts U-verse upped their combined video sub base by 1.6 million to 10.7 million. In addition, satellite operators — led by DirecTV — added 170,000 video subs in 2013.

"The fourth-quarter subscription bump [by Comcast, satellite and telecom] did not carry enough magnitude to lift the penetration rates sequentially," Kagan said. “While seasonally driven quarterly declines have become routine for industry watchers, the annual dip illustrates longer-term downward pressure even as economic conditions gradually improve.”


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