The leading 10 television service providers in the United States that report figures lost 4 million video subscribers between them in 2021. The largest loss was from Comcast, which lost just under 1.50 million residential video subscribers during the year. However, analysis for the informitv Multiscreen Index shows that overall video losses were lower than the previous two years, in which the top 10 services had annual losses of around 6 million subscribers.
Comcast lost 0.349 million residential video subscribers in the last quarter of 2021, taking its total down to just under 17.50 million, down from 18.99 million the year before, in which it lost 1.3 million.
DISH Network lost just under 200,000 satellite television subscribers in the last quarter, declining to 8.22 million from 8.82 million a year before. It also lost 74,000 Sling TV online television subscribers in the last quarter but ended the year slightly up with 2.48 million.
AT&T span off its television operations during the year. The last reported figures were in June 2021, when there were 15.41 million ‘Premium TV’ customers, including DIRECTV satellite subscribers. That was down by over a million on the start of the year. Based on previous trends, the number may well have fallen further, although now the management is focussed on television and video, it may be able to stem the subscriber losses.
Hulu+ Live TV gained 300,000 subscribers in the fourth quarter of 2021, ending the year with 4.3 million, which makes it a major player outside the leading five traditional services.
The other service providers among the top 10 all lost subscribers over the last quarter and the year, but generally at lower rates than seen recently.
|AT&T Premium TV *||-1.09||–||15.41|
|Hulu+ Live TV||0.30||0.30||4.30|
These 10 services, which represent over 90% of the market, have just over 70.37 million subscribers between them, down by just under 4 million over the year. In the context of recent years, that is a comparatively small loss.
These figures do not include Cox Communications, which does not report numbers, but is estimated to have around 3.4 million video subscribers, assuming subscriber losses in line with similar service providers.
The numbers also do not include other online multichannel video services, like YouTube TV, operated by Google, which does not regularly report results but is estimated to have over 3 million subscribers. Also excluded are numbers for DIRECTV Stream, which are not reported.
While one might be forgiven for assuming from reading popular coverage that people in the United States no longer watch television, it is evident that over 70 million homes still subscribe to a television service.
Furthermore, most of these television subscribers are to a traditional cable, satellite or telco television service, with only around 10 million of them being subscribers to an online multichannel service like Sling TV or Hulu+ Live TV.
While subscriber numbers are generally still declining, and they are not necessarily being compensated for by additions to multichannel online video services, it may be that operators have seen the worst in terms of television subscriber losses. Yet, with monthly costs rising and a difficult economic climate, there is still a long way to fall.