The informitv Multiscreen Index shows that the top three television services in the United States lost over half a million video customers between them in the third quarter of 2018, which sounds significant, but they still have 58.63 million left. The largest losses were for DIRECTV satellite subscribers, down by 359,000, while the DIRECTV NOW online offering only gained 49,000.
Comcast reported a net loss of 95,000 residential video customers in the third quarter of 2018, taking its total to 20.98 million, compared to 21.34 million a year previously. The company has a further 1.04 million business customers for video, down 11,000 on the quarter.
Commentators jump on any losses as evidence of so-called ‘cord cutting’. Yet it is notable that Comcast reported 334,000 additions for residential high-speed internet access, taking its internet customer base to 24.77 million.
So Comcast lost 363,000 video customers in 12 months, or 1.7% of its base. Meanwhile, it gained 1.23 million internet customers, an increase of 5.22%
Comcast still makes more revenue from video, $5.59 billion in the last quarter, down from $5.76 billion for the same quarter a year previously. Internet revenue rose to $4.31 billion, up from $3.94 billion, but is significantly more profitable.
It is also notable that advanced services video customers, subscribing to digital video recorders and high definition services, continue to rise. They were up by 297,000 or nearly 2% year on year to 15.28 million. That represents almost 70% of the total video customer base of 22.02 million, including business users.
While the continuing loss of video customers overall is undeniable, and perhaps unavoidable, Comcast still has nearly 21 million homes subscribing to video, and can arguably afford to lose those that are churning out.
AT&T reported a quarterly loss of 359,000 DIRECTV satellite subscribers in the United States, taking its total to 19.63 million, compared to 20.61 million a year previously.
DIRECTV NOW customers increased by only 49,000, including 52,000 in a free trial period, compared to average gains of 330,000 over the previous four quarters, giving it a total of 1.86 million online subscribers.
The end of special promotions and a $5 price increase could explain the substantially slower growth in take up of the online service.
AT&T added 13,000 U-verse video connections, marking a third consecutive quarter of modest gains, to a total of 3.67 million.
Overall, AT&T lost 297,000 video customers in the quarter, ending with a total of 21.15 million, although that is up slightly on a year previously.
Video entertainment revenue was down to $8.28 billion, an 8.5% decline on the figure of $9.05 billion for the same quarter a year previously.
Overall revenues were up 15% year on year to $45 billion, boosted by the acquisition of WarnerMedia.
Investors were unimpressed, with the value of the company declining by 8% after the results were announced, with shares ending the week at just over $29, compared to $38 at the start of the year.
Charter Communications reported 66,000 residential video customer losses, reducing its total to 16.14 million, down 258,000 year on year.
Again, residential internet customers increased, up 266,000 in a quarter, to 23.34 million, up over a million year on year.
Video revenue was actually up 3%, compared to the same quarter the previous year, at $4.33 billion. Internet revenue was up 7% to $3.81 billion.
So the top three service providers in the United States shed a total of 458,000 video customers in the quarter, which sounds substantial, although it was 0.7% of their combined base.