Pay-TV Cord-Cutting Slows - Along With Broadband Growth

This year’s second quarter saw a slowing of both pay-TV cord-cutting and broadband subscriber growth.

On the pay-TV front, an actual gain for internet-delivered vMVPDs and lower losses for satellite and telco services helped offset higher losses in the cable sector.

Large U.S. pay-TV providers representing 95% of the market lost about 1.23 million net video subscribers, compared to a net loss of about 1.5 million in Q2 2020, according to the latest analyses by Leichtman Research Group.  

The tracked providers now account for 77.6 million subscribers — down from 82.4 million in Q2 2020 and 78.7 million in Q1 2020.

The top seven cable companies have 42.6 million video subscribers, other traditional pay-TV services have about 28.2 million subscribers, and the top publicly reporting internet-delivered pay-TV services (vMVPDs) have about 6.8 million.

The top seven cable providers had a net loss of about 590,000 video subscribers — up from a loss of 505,000 in Q2 2020.

Cable providers’ combined subscriber total declined to 42.6 million, from 43.1 million in this year’s first quarter.

Satellite and telco pay-TV services saw losses continue to moderate in Q2. Their combined net loss of 700,000 subscribers was down significantly from 1.045 million loss in Q2 2020, and also down from Q1 2021’s 865,000 loss.

Notably, AT&T Premium TV’s losses narrowed to 473,000, from 887,000 in Q2 2020.

The combined satellite/telco subscriber total was 28.2 million — down from 31.3 million in Q2 2020 and 28.9 million in Q1 2021.

The vMVPDs actually added 55,000 subscribers in Q2, compared to a loss of 155,000 in Q2 2020 and a loss of 255,000 in Q1 2021.

Their combined Q2 subscriptions totaled 6.8 million — up from 6.4 million in Q2 2020 and up from 6.7 million in Q1 2021.

Broadband Tapers, But Still Strong

U.S. cable and wireline phone providers representing about 96% of the market acquired about 890,000 net additional broadband internet subscribers in Q2.

That growth was down 29% from Q2 2021.

However, the 1.26 million adds in last year’s second quarter was the largest in any second-quarter during the past decade — and Q2 2021’s 890,000 represented the second-highest gain in a decade.

Together, the tracked broadband providers have added 8 million subscribers over the past two years, including 4.33 million over the past year, and 3.67 million over the prior year.

Their combined broadband subscriber total is now at 107.4 million, including 74.7 million for cable operators and 32.7 million for wireline phone companies. The total stood at 103.3 million as of Q2 2020.

The top cable companies added about 840,000 subscribers in Q2 — 60% of the net additions for the top cable companies in last year’s second quarter.

The top wireline phone companies added 50,000, compared to a net loss of about 140,000 in Q2 2020.

Telcos had about 400,000 net adds via fiber in Q2, and about 350,000 non-fiber net losses.


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