70% Of U.S. TV Nets Lost Traditional Pay TV Subscribers

Among 118 measured U.S. TV networks this year and last, only 35 showed some traditional pay TV subscriber growth.

Pivotal Research Group's analysis of Nielsen data for its new January 2017 estimates says that networks that showed improvements include Crown Media Holdings (3.4%); AMC Networks (2.0%); CBS (1.3%); Fox (0.4%); and independent network groups (2.0%).

Individual networks that gained year-over-year include Fox’s FXX (7.3%) and FX Movie Channel (6.2%); Discovery’s Velocity (7.8%); NBCU’s Sprout (4.9%) and AMC’s BBC America (4.5%).

Major pay TV network groups showed the biggest declines for A+E Networks, Discovery Communications and Time Warner, while A+E Networks sank 2.9%; Discovery Communications and Time Warner each fell 2.2%. Results for these groups were similar to declines for each in previous months.

Other networks going south included NBCUniversal (2.0%), Scripps Networks Interactive (1.9%), Disney-ABC Television (1.9%) and Viacom (1.8%).

Individual networks that dropped include: NBCU’s Esquire (a steep decline of 27.6% year-over-year), Viacom’s Spike (down 9.5%), CMT (6.9%), Time Warner’s Boomerang (6.3%) and NBCU’s Cloo (5.5%). Bigger networks, such as Disney’s ESPN2 (3.5%) and ESPN (3.6%), were among the major decliners again.

Pivotal notes that results do not include any gains made by networks when it comes to new virtual multichannel video programming distributors such as Sling TV, Playstation Vue, and others.

Overall, broadcast networks’ growth in penetration effectively matches the rise in TV households, says Pivotal Senior Research Analyst Brian Wieser.

“We would see gains of around 1.7% year over year.... this growth in penetration provides support to viewing levels at those networks, at least to the extent that viewing arrives there by default when broadcast-only homes choose to watch linear TV.”

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