Pay TV Business Slightly Trims Net Loss In Subscribers

Traditional pay TV continues to trim some losses versus a year ago, in terms of subscribers. An estimated 1.90 million subscribers cut the cord in the first three months of 2021, according to a recent report from the Leichtman Research Group.

This is a slight improvement over the 1.96 million net subscriber loss in the same time period a year ago.

The study represents 95% of the entire pay TV market, according to the authors, who say these pay TV providers now total 78.7 million subscribers.

Of that 78.7 million subscribers, 72 million are from traditional pay TV platforms -- cable, satellite, telco; 6.7 million are from internet-delivered virtual multichannel video program distributors (vMVPDs).

The biggest overall individual loser in the first quarter of this year -- AT&T’s trio of series, DirecTV/U-Verse/AT&T TV -- dropped a collective 620,000 to now total 15.9 million subscribers. Comcast is next with a 491,000 drop -- with a 19.4 million total. These were followed by Charter Communications, which lost 138,000 subscribers to land at 16.1 million and Dish Network, which slipped 130,000 to 8.7 million.



When it comes to the vMVPDs, Hulu + Live TV lost 200,000 to 3.8 million subscribers, and Dish’s Sling TV slipped 100,000 to 2.4 million.

Leichtman says fuboTV improved by 42,550 in the period to 590,430 subscribers.

The report only surveyed these three vMVPDs. It did not include, for example, YouTube TV, which has over 3 million subscribers, according to other estimates.

Leichtman says net losses are also abating somewhat when looking at a longer year-long period. In 2020, it estimates a net loss of 4,790,000 subscribers versus a 5,125,000 drop the previous year.

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