Pay TV Suffers Worst Quarter Ever, Loses 1.5 Million Subscribers

(Not) breaking news: customers are leaving traditional television in droves. According to new numbers from Leichtman Research Group Inc., the largest pay TV providers in the US (almost 95% of the market) lost 1,530,000 subscribers for the second quarter of 2019. That’s over three times the 420,000 subscribers that were lost in the same quarter of 2018.

Satellite saw the biggest loss, doubling their losses from this quarter last time. Here’s a breakdown of those numbers:

  • Satellite lost 855,000 subscribers (up from 480,000 last year)
  • The top seven cable companies lost 455,000 (compared to 275,000 last year)
  • Telephone providers saw 100,000 video subscriber losses (45,000 for the second quarter of 2018)
  • 120,000 subscribers left internet-delivered services like Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW  (compared to 385,000 total additions for this quarter 2018)

DIRECTV had record net losses for the fifth consecutive quarter, and cable net losses were more than in any quarter since the second quarter of 2014.

Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, noted that this “marked the fourth consecutive quarter of record pay-TV industry net losses. With an increased focus on acquiring and retaining profitable subscribers, DBS (satellite) services accounted for more than half of the net pay-TV losses in 2Q 2019, and 63% of the losses over the past year.”

Of course, one of the first things TV providers often do in a situation like this to mitigate some of these losses is increase their pricing – which will be the tipping point for more subscribers to jump ship.

It’s clear that the television landscape is changing. What’s not clear is if “traditional TV” like cable and satellite will make it out alive.