The top six television service providers in the United States gained 51,000 subscribers between them in the last quarter of 2016, as reported by the informitv Multiscreen Index. They saw like for like losses of 370,000 over the year, which is less than half a percent of their combined base. Subscribers are still slowly leaking out of the system, particularly among the smaller operators, but the larger ones are maintaining their market share.
Four of the six services reported television subscriber gains in the last quarter, adding 364,000 between them. That was largely offset by losses for AT&T U-verse, which fell by 262,000.
Comcast gained 80,000 television customers in the fourth quarter of 2016. DIRECTV added 235,000, largely at the expense of AT&T U-verse, while Verizon Fios added 21,000 subscribers.
DISH Network saw net subscriber gains of 28,000 in the fourth quarter, including Sling TV customers, compared to a fourth quarter loss of 12,000 for 2015. The company activated approximately 694,000 gross new television subscribers in the quarter, compared to 661,000 in the same period the previous year.
Charter Spectrum lost 51,000 television customers in the fourth quarter, without which the top six would have maintained their numbers.
Over the year, four of the six services lost subscribers. Charter Spectrum and DISH Network both lost 226,000.
Comcast gained 161,000 television customers, with net additions in three of the four quarters, compared to a loss of 36,000 the previous year.
DIRECTV added 1.23 million television subscribers in the United States in 2016, gaining every quarter, although the AT&T U-verse service of its parent company lost 1.36 million over the year.
Verizon Fios shed 1.13 million television customers in 2016, largely through the transfer of 1.18 million customers to Frontier Communications in April. Verizon saw an organic gain of 59,000 over the year.
In total, the top six services lost 1.56 million television customers over the course of the year. That includes a transfer of 1.18 million customers to another provider, without which the combined net loss over the year was 370,000. The top six services collectively account for 82.97 million television customers. So that represents an annual subscriber loss of just 0.44%.
These six operators collectively have more than an 80% share of the market in the United States. Any decline in television subscribers has been relatively modest, despite concerns about so-called ‘cord-cutting’.
The Multiscreen Index comprises 100 leading multichannel television and video services that collectively account for around 420 million subscribing homes worldwide. The index provides an industry benchmark of the relative performance of television service providers against which customer gains or losses can be measured.