Traditional Pay TV Loses 4% Subscribers In 2017, Virtual Pay TV Rises

Traditional pay TV providers had a nearly 4% drop in subscribers in 2017 -- buffeted by gains with new virtual digital TV providers. S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Kagan said the business ended 2017 with 94 million subscribers.

Cable operators lost an estimated 986,411 video subscribers, which Kagan says is more than twice the drop in 2016. Satellite pay TV providers were down nearly 1.7 million subscribers; and telco operators gave up 903,262 subscribers.

Over the past five years, cable, DBS and telco subscriptions are now down about 7.4 million from their peak in 2012.

However, adding in virtual TV providers, such as DirecTV Now and Sling TV, help lift overall pay TV platforms' services -- traditional and digital platforms, of around 3 million subscribers -- totaling 97.3 million.

Another estimate from MoffettNathanson Research says digital pay TV providers grew 2.6 million in 2017 to total 4.6 million overall. When adding in virtual MVPDs, overall U.S. pay TV subscribers are down just 0.7% in 2017 versus the year before.

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