U.S. Pay-TV Services Cut Sub Losses


LONDON: The ten leading pay-TV services in the U.S. shed 73,000 subscribers between them in the third quarter of 2016, according to informitv’s latest Multiscreen Index.

The firm points out that it could have been more, but DISH Network has changed the way it calculates commercial customers, turning a net subscriber loss into an apparent gain. DISH lost 116,000 subscribers, after losing 281,000 the previous quarter, but reported a gain of 50,000 television customers, after changing the way it tabulates some hotel and commercial accounts.

Comcast added 32,000 TV subs, ending the quarter with 22.43 million, a year-on-year gain of 170,000. AT&T satellite subsidiary DIRECTV gained 323,000 television customers in the U.S., taking its total to 20.78 million, though its U‑verse telco TV service lost 326,000.

Charter, which is rebranding its services as Spectrum following the merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, lost 47,000 TV customers. Meanwhile, Verizon Fios added 36,000 subs, overtaking AT&T U-verse. Optimum and Suddenlink, which are both now owned by Altice, lost 28,000 and 13,000 television customers, respectively, while Mediacom lost 8,000.

“Mergers and acquisitions complicate direct comparisons but the overall decline was less than the 128,000 loss for third quarter of 2015 or the 663,000 in the second quarter of 2016,” said Dr. William Cooper, the editor of the informitv Multiscreen Index.

“Six out of these ten services lost subscribers in the quarter, although these were largely offset by reported gains for the others,” added informitv analyst Dr. Sue Farrell. “Over twelve months these ten services lost over 350,000 television customers, or 0.4 percent of their combined subscriber base.”