Big traditional pay TV providers lost 3.7% or 3 million subscribers in 2017 -- one of the worst years ever, according to one report. But other research says that new, rising virtual pay TV services have softened the blow.
Seven major services -- DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast, Charter, Altice, U-Verse, and FiOS -- gave up 3 million subscribers collectively during 2017, according to nScreenMedia.
The biggest loser was Dish Network, which gave back 1.14 million subscribers -- a 10% decline. AT&T U-verse was down 17% or 622,000 largely due to AT&T shifting business to DirecTV services.
Overall satellite services were down 5.4%. Telco lost 8.5%, and cable operators slipped 1.2%.
Research shows that modeling these results to all U.S pay TV providers means a drop of 3.5 million subscribers overall in 2017. The top seven companies represent 85% of all traditional pay TV subscribers.
While traditional pay TV business is dropping, MoffettNathanson Research estimates that new virtual MVPDs (multichannel video program distributors) grew by 2.6 million last year (to 4.6 million overall). This came from Google’s YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Dish’s Sling TV.
MoffettNathanson says while traditional pay TV providers lost around 3.4%, as of the fourth quarter of 2017, when including virtual MVPDs, overall this is down just 0.7% -- roughly the same level (a 0.6% slip) as in fourth-quarter 2016.