The top 10 television services in the United States in the informitv Multiscreen Index all lost subscribers in the second quarter of 2017. They lost 795,000 television subscribers between them, reducing their combined total to 86.12 million. It was the largest quarterly loss seen so far in the United States, equivalent to 0.9% of their subscriber base in three months, or 2.1% over 12 months.
DISH Network lost 196,000 subscribers in the quarter. AT&T U-verse lost 195,000, down over a million in a year. DIRECTV lost 156,000, while Charter Spectrum lost 90,000 and Comcast lost 45,000.
These ten services continue to account for three quarters of all television homes in the United States. Although they lost 1.5% of their subscriber base in the first half of 2017, as a result of mergers and acquisitions they have only lost 1.6% of their total in two years.
Altice, which controls Suddenlink and owns Optimum, formerly Cablevision, is reported to be interested in acquiring Charter Communications, which previously acquired Time Warner Cable, the subject of a former bid by Altice.
So far Altice has failed to reduce consecutive quarterly subscriber losses at Suddenlink or Optimum, which have lost 133,000 subscribers between them in 12 months. Charter lost 288,000 in the same period.
The American arm of Altice went public in June. It has a market capitalisation of $23 billion and almost as much debt. Charter, which now brands its services as Spectrum, is valued at almost $100 billion and has around $60 billion in debt.
Quite how Altice would fund the deal is unclear, but John Malone, who has around a 25% stake in Charter is understood to favour further consolidation in the cable market. The combination of Charter, Optimum and Suddenlink would have over 20 million television customers, just short of the numbers for DIRECTV and Comcast.
The informitv Multiscreen Index tracks 100 leading pay-TV services worldwide and is published quarterly.