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Study: Pay-TV Lost Record 812,000 Video Subscribers in Q2

29 Aug, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The exodus of pay-TV subscribers continues, with more than 800,000 terminating service in the second quarter (ended June 30) — the largest drop to date, according to research group SNL Kagan. The domestic pay-TV ecosystem reportedly now totals fewer than 96 million households.

Driving the decline was the telecommunications sector, spearheaded by AT&T’s shifting focus from the U-verse platform to the $49 billion DirecTV acquisition. Indeed, AT&T is preparing to rollout DirecTV Now, an online TV service comparable to Dish Network’s Sling TV, Sony’s PlayStation Vue and Charter’s Spectrum TV Plus, among others.

DirecTV added 342,000 subscribers in Q2, compared with 391,000 U-verse subs that dropped pay-TV service. Overall, telecom losses increased exponentially, with video down nearly 1 million subscribers since mid-year 2015.

Specifically, Kagan said cable operators lost 298,000 total video customers, cutting their losses by 13.6% year-over-year. This was the sector’s fifth consecutive year of diminishing losses in Q2.

Comcast Cable lost 4,000 video subs to end the period with 22.4 million subs. The nation’s largest cable operator lost 69,000 subs during the previous-year period. The drop represented the company’s best quarterly result in more than 10 years.

“On a trailing 12-month basis, we have now added about 90,000 video customers, a remarkable improvement in the face of significant competitive and technological change, and a testament to the investments we've made in our platform and breadth of content,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

Separately, satellite TV lost 26,000 subscribers, underscoring mounting sub losses at Dish.

Kagan said that factoring in the estimated 764,000 customers for Sling TV, arguably a subset of multichannel services, the trailing 12-month multichannel decline is reduced to 853,000 subs from an estimated year-to-date loss of more than 1.6 million.

In a separate study by TiVO-owned Digitalsmiths, 81.6% of respondents who use an SVOD service said they were pleased trying to find something to watch, compared with 57.7% of pay-TV respondents. 

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