vMVPD Keeps Growing, But Doesn't Slow Down The Pay TV Industry Business

Sinking further than in recent periods, total pay TV distribution -- cable, satellite, cable and virtual multichannel video programming distributors -- was down 5.2% in third quarter 2021 versus the same time period a year ago, according to MoffettNathanson Research.

The four previous quarterly periods witnessed declines of between 4.6% to 4.9%.

MoffettNathanson Research says total pay TV subscribers (including virtual pay TV distributors) now total 83.9 million subscribers in the third quarter.

Virtual pay TV providers now total 14.2 million -- up 17% versus a year ago. But traditional pay TV subscribers -- just cable, satellite, and telco -- were down 8.8% in the third quarter, totaling 69.7 million subscribers.

What continues to go wrong is that fewer of those former traditional pay TV subscribers move to virtual pay TV providers, such as Sling, Hulu+Live TV and YouTube TV.

Virtual pay TV providers added 980,000 subscribers. But the traditional pay TV businesses lost 1.6 million in the third-quarter period.



The research company says the conversion rate from traditional-to-virtual pay TV providers was at a low 36% in the third quarter. It had been in the 40%-plus range in previous periods.

Part of the problem is the steady price increases for virtual pay TV services: DirecTV Stream (formerly AT&T TV Now) now starts at $70 a month; fuboTV, $65 a month; Hulu Live + TV, $65 a month; YouTube TV, $65 a month.

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