According to new data from Leichtman Research Group, pay television lost more than 2 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2020 (January 1 to March 31) – its worst quarterly performance ever.
Now, in all fairness to big cable, these numbers include all paid television, including streaming services like Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV. But of course, the biggest losses by far were from cable.
Comcast was the biggest loser, dropping a whopping 409,000 cable customers. Charter lost 70,000 subscriptions and Cox was in third place with a loss of 45,000.
On the satellite end, Dish Network lost 123,000 subscribers but that does include the loss of around 250,000 commercial subscriptions related to COVID-19 – likely bars and restaurants.
AT&T lost 897,000 customers, but since they didn’t break down their losses into DirecTV, AT&T TV, or U-Verse, we can’t say for sure those were cable customers lost. There’s a great chance though that they led the way in both cable and satellite losses.
And just do you don’t think it’s only cable that’s struggling, Sling TV lost 281,000 paying customers and AT&T TV Now lost 138,000. Hulu + Live TV actually saw a gain of 100,000 customers during the beginning of the year, and while hard numbers for YouTube TV weren’t available since they don’t report subscriber numbers, but most reports say they’re doing well.
What’s clear here is that the numbers simply keep going the wrong way for cable television. And it’s worth noting that this data period ends in March, just as mass quarantines went into effect all across America. Since streaming usage surged to unprecedented levels during these last two months, it’s hard to imaging people were both streaming and watching cable, so the next quarterly outlook may be even bleaker.