Multichannel Video Cos. Register Subscriber Loss, Satellite TV Gains

Man-watching-TV-ShutterstockFor the first time in a year-long period, the biggest multichannel video companies have witnessed a collective net loss in subscribers.

Thirteen of the biggest TV/video retail distributers had a net loss of 80,000 subscribers from the second quarter of 2012 through the first quarter of 2013, says the Durham, NH-based Leichtman Research Group. This compares to a gain of 380,000 over a similar period a year ago.

For some time, major cable operators have lost ground on a yearly and quarterly basis when it comes to their subscriber base -- much of which was made up by the growth of satellite and telco companies. Helping to combat this erosion, cable companies have seen continued higher revenue per subscriber per month.

Leichtman says top TV providers account for 94.9 million subscribers, with the top nine cable companies pulling in 51.0 million; satellite TV companies, 34.2 million; and telco companies 9.7 million.

The biggest losers over the past year include Comcast, giving back 553,000 subscribers. It now has 21.9 million, remaining as the biggest overall TV distributor. Time Warner Cable has lost 359,000 -- at 12.1 million now, it is the second-largest cable operator.

However, both satellite and telco companies have continued to make gains: DirecTV taking in 139,000 subscribers, with a total of 20.1 million and Dish Networks adding 21,000 to reach 14.1 million. AT&T Uverse made the biggest gain of any TV provider -- adding 777,000 to hit 4.8 million. Verizon took on 542,000, to reach 4.9 million.

For the first quarter of 2013, overall TV companies added 195,000 in net additional video subscribers. This was down from two previous first-quarter periods: 445,000 in the first quarter of 2012, and 470,000 in the first quarter of 2011.

On-air promos (54%) and word of mouth (50%) were the top two sources prompting “show discovery.” Social media was third at 39%. In Brazil, social media topped word of mouth.

"Watching TV" photo from Shutterstock.

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