Television service providers in the United States are continuing to lose subscribers across the board. All those that have reported so far have disclosed subscriber losses in the second quarter of 2017. The combined loss was approaching half a million television customers, with some operators still to report. The total could exceed the losses for the first quarter of year, meaning over a million fewer homes subscribing to traditional pay-television services.
Comcast reported a loss of 45,000 residential television subscribers in the second quarter of 2017, taking its total to 21.45 million. The loss follows recent gains made by Comcast with its X1 service, now used by 55% of its residential video customers. It now has around the same number of subscribers it had two years previously.
Comcast will be responding to some of the over the top new entrants with its own Instant TV offering, delivered to the home over a managed network but without a set-top box. It has been testing the service in some markets and will launch more broadly in towards the end of the third quarter.
AT&T subsidiary DIRECTV lost 156,000 television subscribers in the United States, reducing its total to 20.86 million, while AT&T U-verse lost 195,000, leaving it with 3.83 million. In the first quarter, DIRECTV reported that its subscriber numbers were unchanged, having made substantial gains in previous quarters. These were mainly from AT&T U-verse, which has lost over two million customers in two years, since AT&T acquired DIRECTV.
The DIRECTV NOW online service ended the first half of 2017 with 397,000 paid subscribers, up from 317,000 at the end of the first quarter and 227,000 at the start of the year.
Taking this into account, AT&T reported total quarterly video connection losses of 217,000, or 217,000 year on year.
Charter lost 90,000 residential Spectrum television customers, continuing a run of quarterly subscriber losses, compared to a loss of 152,000 in the second quarter of 2016. The group has lost over a quarter of a million subscribers in 12 months.
Verizon Fios reported a loss of 15,000 television customers, its second consecutive quarterly loss, although relatively modest in comparison to other providers. It now has 4.67 million customers, about the same as a year previously.
Optimum and Suddenlink lost 12,000 and 25,000 television subscribers respectively for Altice.
Between them, these seven operators have reported losses of 458,000 television subscribers in the second quarter, with DISH Network, Frontier and Mediacom still to report.
DISH Network lost 143,000 television subscribers in the first quarter of 2017 and 281,000 in the second quarter 2016. So the total quarterly subscriber losses among the top 10 providers in the United States could rise further.
These 10 providers lost 559,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2017, according to the informitv Multiscreen Index.
So total losses are already over a million subscribers for the first half of 2017. That sounds significant, and it is, but bear in mind these 10 providers have 87 million subscribers between them, so there is a lot further to fall, if they do not continue to update their services.
The informitv Multiscreen Index tracks subscriber changes across 100 leading service providers worldwide.