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Growing pay-TV losses at Comcast, AT&T and Charter indicate that traditional cord-cutting has gotten 'freaking ugly,' analyst says.

Jeff Baumgartner

July 29, 2019

2 Min Read
Cord-Cutting Rate Set to Reach Record High in Q2

Based on the initial wave of Q2 results at Comcast, AT&T and Charter Communications, the rate of cord-cutting for traditional US pay-TV providers is poised to reach record levels, predicts a top industry analyst.

Those three providers shed more than 1.2 million aggregate video subs in Q2, compared to combined loss of just 134,000 in the year-ago period, Michael Nathanson, analyst with MoffettNathanson, explained in a report issued Monday.

"The early read on traditional cord-cutting is freaking ugly," he wrote in an emailed statement, noting that pay-TV subscriber declines have already missed MoffettNathanson's estimates by -450,000 so far during this earnings season.

Figure 1:

Several other major US providers, including Dish Network, Altice USA and Verizon, have yet to post their respective video damage for Q2. Meanwhile, it's become abundantly clear that OTT-TV services from the likes of Hulu and YouTube are not keeping up with those losses and serving as one-for-one replacements as consumers flee traditional pay-TV offerings in greater numbers.

"As a result of this bloodshed, we are estimating that the rate of traditional cord-cutting will reach -5.5% in 2Q (the worst rate it has ever been) and all-in cord-cutting (adding back the virtual MVPD subscribers) will be -2.7% (again, a new low)," Nathanson explained. "We would expect that this trend will continue to accelerate over the back-end of 2019... Even if Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV crush numbers this quarter, we expect to see a continued acceleration in the rate of Pay TV subscriber declines."

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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