Virtual MVPDs Help Boost TV Business

Although cable TV networks continue to lose subscribers, when it comes to traditional pay TV providers, new virtual/digital pay TV providers are slowly adding business.

Initial estimates for new, virtual multichannel video-programming distributors (vMVPDs) — such as Sling TV, DirecTV now and PlayStation Vue — are 1.4 million homes, according to Nielsen, via a report from Pivotal Research Group.

With its analysis of the data, Pivotal says total subscribers tracked by Nielsen are probably closer to 2 million. Some subscribers have both traditional MVPD and vMVPD subscriptions.

More specifically, Brian Wieser, senior research analyst for Pivotal, writes: “Data on vMVPD penetration rates provide notable, if unsurprising results: Most network groups’ median networks can add back 700,000 to 900,000 vMVPD subscribers out of the incremental 1.4mm estimated in the current sample.”



However, Nielsen’s Universe July estimates for just traditional pay TV providers — which excludes vMVPDs — showed that median cable network household penetration declined 2.5% versus a year ago, as growth in new TV homes rose 1.7%.

Major TV network groups posted low single-digit percentage drops — Discovery Communications (2.0%), Walt Disney (3.5%), NBCUniversal (2.1%), Scripps Networks Interactive (3.9%), Time Warner (1.9%) and Viacom (3.0%). Among the major groups, Fox was down the least, at 1.1%.

On the positive side, AMC Networks were up 1%.

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