Despite stronger video subscriber gains by the two leading telco TV players, the US pay-TV sector suffered through an even worse spring than usual, according to the latest analysis by Leichtman Research Group (LRG) Inc.
In its new quarterly roundup issued Monday, LRG reported that the 13 largest US cable, satellite, and telco TV providers collectively lost 344,000 video subscribers in the second quarter. That’s more than the same 13 providers, who represent about 94 percent of the overall pay-TV market, lost in the two preceding springs, when losses were a combined 325,000 video customers each time.
The second quarter is notoriously weak for the pay-TV sector because of seasonal moves by college students and snowbirds. But the sector is not adding nearly as many new subscribers as it once did during the other three quarters, leading to forecasts that the industry will suffer its first annual loss ever this year.
The nine biggest US cable operators led the way down in the second quarter, collectively losing a whopping 555,000 video subscribers. That’s a bit more than they lost in all of 2012, when they shed a combined 540,000 customers. Unlike last year, when at least one large MSO, Cablevision Systems, avoided a loss, all nine MSOs registered declines this spring.
At the same time, the two major US satellite TV providers suffered a much bigger drop this time around. DirecTV and Dish Network teamed up to lose 162,000 video subscribers during the spring, much worse than last year’s loss of 62,000 subscribers. In fact, LRG noted that it was the worst quarterly loss for the satellite TV industry since the research firm began tracking it more than a decade ago.
As a result, cable’s market dominance continues to slip. The nine top MSOs ended June 30 with 50.5 million subscribers, or nearly 54 percent of the market’s 94.6 million subscribers. The satellite TV providers finished the quarter with 34 million subscribers, or nearly 36 percent of the market. The two telcos closed the quarter with 10 million subscribers, or close to 11 percent of the total market.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading