Pay TV Companies Trim Losses, Telcos Gain

watchingtvTraditional pay TV distributors industry-wide were able to trim their collective losses in the third quarter, thanks to continued large gains from telephone company TV/video businesses.

The 13 major TV distributors -- representing about 94% of the U.S. market -- lost 25,000 net subscribers in the third quarter of 2013 versus a 50,000 net loss in the third quarter of 2012, according to Leichtman Research Group.

Top cable companies suffered the most -- down 600,000 for the top nine companies, for the worst results in three years. This includes a 300,000-plus loss that Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable TV operator, incurred in August as a result of the dispute and then blackout of CBS Corp. networks.

The best-performing segment was telephone-based TV providers, which added 400,000 video subscribers -- an improvement over the 317,000 net growth it had in 2012. AT&T U-verse had its best quarterly results in four years -- adding 265,000, its second-highest performance ever.

Satellite companies gained 174,000 during the period, up from 48,000 in the third quarter of a year ago.

Of the 94.5 million U.S. pay TV consumers (94% of the market), cable operators now stand at 49.9 million customers. Satellite TV has 34.2 million; and telephone companies are at 10.4 million.

Looking at the top 10 TV distributors, the largest pay TV distributor remains Comcast with 21.6 million (down 129,000), followed by DirecTV at 20.2 million (up 139,000), Dish Network at 14.05 million (35,000 higher), Time Warner Cable at 11.6 million (losing 304,000) and AT&T U-verse at 5.23 million (up 265,000).

The next five companies include: Verizon FiOS at 5.17 million (adding 135,000); Charter at 4.3 million (off 25,000); Cablevision at 2.8 million (losing 37,000); Suddenlink at 1.2 million (giving up 3,000); and Mediacom at 980,000 (down 23,000).



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