Pay-TV Subs in Q3: More Shifting Than Cutting

November 20, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Pay-TV & Cord-Cutting

LRG-Multi-Channel-Video-Provider-Subscription-Trends-Q3-Nov2013The Q3 pay-TV subscription figures have been rolling in, and it looks like the country’s top providers suffered a net contraction in overall subscribers, but one not as bad as might have been expected. According to the Leichtman Research Group (LRG), the top multi-channel video providers – representing 94% of the market – lost almost 27,000 subs in Q3, an improvement from a 50,000-strong loss in Q3 2012. That said, the rolling 4-quarter loss (Q4 2012-Q3 2013) of about 80,000 subscribers is a significant downturn from the previous year’s gain of 310,000.

There was plenty of movement within the pay-TV market not reflected in the fairly flat net result. As has been the case throughout this year, cable companies incurred the biggest losses, shedding more than 600,000 subscriptions in Q3, up from about 415,000 a year earlier. More than half of that loss owed to Time Warner, which lost more than 300,000 subscribers (with its CBS spat not seeming to have done it any favors).

Many of cable’s lost subscribers appear to have gravitated to IPTV providers, which picked up 400,000 adds in Q3. AT&T U-verse gained the majority of those – 265,000 – in so doing surpassing Verizon FIOS as the larger provider (5.23 million vs. 5.17 million). IPTV providers have been growing their share of the market of late, although they remain behind satellite (34.2 million) and cable companies (49.9 million) by a sizable margin.

A recent analysis from MoffettNathanson Research pegged the net loss of pay-TV subscribers to be 113,000 in Q3 (as reported here by Multichannel News), although the analyst noted that “the pace of cord cutting actually slowed in the quarter.” So for this past quarter, at least, is looks like the market lost some subscribers, but shuffled around far more.

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