Over the course of 2018, the top 10 service providers in the U.S. lost a total of 2.57 million television subscribers, or just over 3 percent of their base, as reported by the informitv Multiscreen Index.
In the last quarter of 2018, they lost 1.12 million television subscribers between them. That represents 1.36 percent of their combined subscriber base.
The largest losses were for the two satellite services, which shed 2.36 million subs. Their respective online services gained 649,000 subscribers over the year. Cable had a better quarter, with the two leading services reducing their combined losses to 55,000. The four cable companies gained internet customers, adding 2.41 million between them in 2018, with a total of 52.84 million at the end of the year.
Comcast narrowed its quarterly cable television subscriber losses to 19,000 but its total dropped below 21 million by the end of the year. DIRECTV lost 403,000 satellite subs, ending the year with 19.22 million, while the DIRECT NOW online service lost 280,000, ending the year with 1.53 million. Charter lost 36,000 cable television customers, compared to a loss of 66,000 the previous quarter, ending the year with 16.1 million. DISH Network shed 381,000 satellite subs, falling below 10 million, but gained 47,000 Sling TV customers, ending with 2.42 million. Verizon lost 46,000 Fios TV subs, while AT&T added 12,000 U-verse television customers. Between them, they have 8.13 million telco television subscribers, 118,000 fewer than a year previously. Altice USA cut subscriber losses for Optimum to 16,100, while Suddenlink gained 800, with a combined net loss of 98,100 over the year, ending the year with a total of 3.31 million.
“While the satellite services in the United States lost further subscribers, the cable companies reduced their rate of television customer decline but added internet customers,” said Dr. William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index. “So while they are losing on the swings they are gaining on the roundabouts.”