The US’ 11 largest pay-TV providers, which together represent 95% of all subscribers, shed almost 666,000 subscribers in Q2, per Leichtman Research Group (LRG). That’s up from their previous Q2 loss of 545,000 subscribers in 2015, and stands in contrast to the continuing addition of broadband subscribers.
It’s worth noting that the subscriber losses equate to less than 1% of the total subscriber base for these top providers. However, these contractions have been compounding over time…
The subscriber losses in Q2 were most acutely felt by telephone companies such as Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse. Despite accounting for the smallest number of subscribers (relative to satellite and cable companies), the top phone companies lost half-a-million subscribers in Q2, more than 4% of their total base at the start of the quarter.
Things were a bit more positive for other pay-TV providers. Satellite TV companies added 61,000 subscribers, a reversal from the fortunes of the year-earlier period, when they had lost 214,000 subscribers.
Cable companies such as Comcast and Charter, meanwhile, shed close to 225,000 subscribers, a better result than in Q2 2015, when they lost about 340,000 subscribers. In fact, the Q2 2016 result for cable companies represented the fewest subscriber losses in a second quarter since 2006.
Cable companies also fared well on the broadband side, according to separate LRG data, adding more than half-a-million (553,293) subscribers during the second quarter. That was their best second-quarter result since 2008.
However, phone companies backed up their poor quarter in pay-TV with broadband subscriber losses, too. They shed almost 361,000 subscribers in Q2, more than double their losses from Q2 2015 (150,000).
The resulting net gain in broadband subscribers – of 192,510 – was the smallest of any quarter in the past 15 years.
That indicates that broadband subscriber additions may be slowing, a finding that would be in line with survey data suggesting that broadband adoption is plateauing.
Nevertheless, broadband continues to inch towards a milestone of overtaking pay-TV subscribers. The top broadband providers in the US, representing, 95% of the market, now have 91.9 million subscribers, less than 2 million below the total number of pay-TV subscribers (93.75 million). At the end of 2014, that gap was about 7 million.