The total number of television subscribers to the 100 leading services in the informitv Multiscreen Index fell slightly by 0.11 million in the third quarter of 2018, down by 0.02%. Although small, it was the first worldwide quarterly contraction to date, with only 43 services reporting gains, which is the fewest seen so far.

While there was a decline of just over a million subscribers across North, Central and South America, the number of subscribers also fell for the first time in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, by 0.31 million.

There was a gain of 1.22 million in Asia Pacific, led by an increase of 200,000 at Dish TV in India, which with a total of 23.50 million leads the world ranking in the Multiscreen Index in terms of subscriber numbers.

Cable lost 0.22 million subscribers while satellite lost 0.90 million. Telco television gained 0.92 million. Online services Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW added 26,000 and 63,000, with totals of 2.37 million and 1.81 million respectively.

Multiscreen Index summary, 2018 Q3. Source: informitv Multiscreen Index.

The top 10 services in the United States lost 877,000 subscribers, but still have a total of 82.72 million between them, led by Comcast, with 20.98 million and DIRECTV with 19.63 million. Apart from the online services, AT&T U-verse was the only one to gain subscribers, with a modest increase of 13,000.

The greatest gain was for Türk Telekom in Turkey, with a gain of 266,000 to a total of 3.53 million, including satellite, telco and Tivibu Go subscribers, up from 2.51 million a year previously.

The largest loss was for Canal+ International, which fell by 608,000 subscribers following the football World Cup, taking its total to 6.93 million, although it was up 726,000 year on year.

Sky did not report subscriber numbers following its acquisition by Comcast. The combination of Comcast and Sky has approaching 44 million residential television subscribers, making it the largest group in the Multiscreen Index.

“Our Multiscreen Index shows a slight fall in television subscriber numbers worldwide for the first time, following average quarterly growth of 1% over recent years,” observed editor Dr William Cooper. “The third calendar quarter tends to be weaker. The key question is whether the next quarter will show a recovery or continuing decline.

The Multiscreen Index comprises 100 leading multichannel television and video services based in 38 countries that collectively account for around 430 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.