Traditional Pay TV Steepens Losses, Digital Pay TV Growth Slows

Traditional pay TV providers have widened their net loss of subscribers by 30% in the third quarter of this year.

MoffettNathanson Research says this year’s drop amounted to 1.12 million.

“It is the largest quarterly loss ever (the first time the industry lost over 1 million subscribers in a quarter),” writes Craig Moffett, senior research analyst, MoffettNathanson.

Overall, the traditional pay TV providers -- cable, satellite, and telco -- were down 3.7% in the period to 90.05 million subscribers. Adding in virtual pay multichannel video program distributors (vMVPDs) -- the digital pay TV providers -- helped ease that result.

The overall industry was down 0.7% from the same period a year before, totaling 96.5 million subscribers.

But this isn’t good news -- especially on the cord-cutting front.

“With traditional pay TV penetration still hovering close to 80%, one would have expected growth of about 200,000 more subscribers per quarter on average than a year ago, based solely on the new household formations,” writes Moffett.



“To the extent we are not seeing these new households in the subscriber data, we can conclude that cord-cutting has accelerated more than it appears, based on the reported subscribership data alone.”

Total major cable system operators witnessed a drop of 293,000 during the period, while satellite pay TV companies were down 726,000 and telco lost 104,000.

While total vMVPDs grew by 414,000 subscribers, it was down from the 909,000 in the third quarter of a year ago -- part of a slow growth decline. Since the fourth quarter 2017, vMPVDs added 870,000. first quarter 2018 added 754,000 and second quarter 2018 gained 691,000.

2 comments about "Traditional Pay TV Steepens Losses, Digital Pay TV Growth Slows".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, November 12, 2018 at 4:54 p.m.

    From an advertiser's point of view, the important question is how many of these "defectors" are no longer reachable by "linear TV" time buys? The answer seems to be that many are replacing "the cord" by switching to over-the-air reception and/or broadband reception---or both. As a result the reach potential of many TV time buys is still somewhere between 80-94% of the total population----probably on the higher not the lower end---- and Nielsen reports that even those few who do not have access to commercial TV in their own homes are exposed to it at someone else's home or some other out-of-home location---at least to some extent.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 13, 2018 at 11:38 a.m.

    The providers, Comcast, Verizon and all the others have treated their customers with such distain and ill trained employees in every department in and out of the US have driven many people out. People start to participate in OTT and leave linear TV in the dust. There is a cure, but it investment costs.

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