The top 10 service providers in the United States collectively lost over 877,000 television subscribers in the third quarter of 2018, as reported by the informitv Multiscreen Index. The two satellite services suffered the largest losses, shedding 726,000 between them, while their online offerings gained 89,000.
DISH Network lost 367,000 satellite television subscribers, compared to 192,000 the previous quarter, making a loss of 2.92 million in 12 months.
DIRECTV lost 359,000 satellite television subscribers, compared to 286,000 the previous quarter and 251,000 in the third quarter the previous year, with a total loss of 980,000 in 12 months.
Comcast cable television customers declined 96,000, compared to 136,000 the previous quarter, marking its sixth consecutive quarterly loss, down 363,000 year on year to 20.98 million.
Charter Spectrum lost 66,000, compared to a loss of 73,000 the previous quarter and 104,000 in the third quarter the prior year.
Altice USA lost 28,000 between Optimum and Suddenlink, compared to 24,000 the previous quarter and 32,000 a year before.
Verizon Fios shed 63,000 television subscribers, increasing its rate of losses, while AT&T U-verse added 13,000, which was 11,000 fewer than it added the previous quarter.
Sling TV gained 26,000 online subscribers, with a total of 2.37 million, but steady gains in recent quarters have not made up for the loss of satellite customers.
DIRECTV NOW added 63,000 online subscribers, for a total of 1.81 million, but the quarterly gain was down on the average additions of 340,000 over the previous three quarters.
Cox Communications is not included in the top 10 as it does not report subscriber numbers.
“The traditional satellite, cable and telco services lost approaching a million subscribers in the last quarter,” observed Dr William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index. “The satellite services have lost 1.58 million subscribers between them so far this year.”
No longer in the top 10 services, Frontier and Mediacom lost 29,000 and 15,000 video subscribers respectively, reducing their totals to 0.87 million and 0.79 million.
If the online multichannel services from DISH and DIRECTV are excluded, with the additional losses from Frontier and Mediacom the leading traditional services lost just over a million subscribers in the quarter.
The quarterly net losses represent 1% of the pay television subscriber base. That will clearly be a concern for service providers but it still leaves over 82 million homes in the United States that are paying for television. The challenge is that online multichannel services are not gaining customers as fast as satellite providers are losing them.
It should be noted that these dynamics are particular to the United States as a mature market and are not representative of other regions.