Even when adding new business from so-called virtual pay-TV providers, the average cable TV network still lost subscribers, according to the most recent Nielsen estimates.
Pivotal Research Group says the median cable network group subscriber losses were 2.8% for traditional pay TV services, according to Nielsen projections for September. Factoring in new business from virtual/digital pay TV providers -- such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and others -- “would likely reduce this decline to a figure of around 2%,” the company notes.
Major network groups’ median networks added back anywhere from 400,000 to 1.1 million vMVPD subscribers from an incremental 1.5 million homes. Pivotal says the total universe vMVPD subscribers, according to Nielsen, is closer to 2 million. Some subscribers have both traditional MVPD and vMVPD subscriptions.
New TV homes continue to rise -- up 1% in September, lower than the 1.7% growth rate/month over the previous 12 months.
Among the cable network groups with the most significant subscriber losses are Starz, down 7.6%; Scripps Networks Interactive, 4.8%; Viacom, 3.8%; Walt Disney, 3.7%; Univision, 3.0%; A+E Networks, 2.8%; Discovery, 2.6%; NBCUniversal, 2.5%; Time Warner, 2.4%; and Fox, 2%.
AMC Networks is the only group to see growth in traditional subscribers, up 3.1%. Additional independent cable networks are also up -- 3.8%.
Big individual broadcast TV networks may be faring better overall. “We think an under-appreciated positive story lies in the data not explicitly included in Nielsen’s Universe Estimates,” writes Brian Wieser, senior research analyst at Pivotal.
“Broadcast networks’ growth in penetration effectively matches the rise in TV households. If we were to look at ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC, we would see gains of around 1.0% year over year.”