Cord-Cutting: Pay-TV Providers Lost 5.4% of Their Subscribers in 2019

April 16, 2020

This article is included in these additional categories:

Industries | Media & Entertainment | Pay-TV & Cord-Cutting | Television

LeichtmanResearchGroup Pay TV Subscriber Losses 2014 2019 Apr2020The top pay-TV providers in the US — representing about 95% of the market — shed a hefty number of subscribers again this past year, according to recent data from Leichtman Research Group (LRG). In 2019, pay-TV providers lost more than 5% of their subscriber base, considerably more than their losses in 2018.

Not taking into account internet-delivered services such as Sling TV and Hulu + Live TV, which saw a subscriber increase of 18% in 2019 (roughly the same relative rise as in 2018), traditional pay-TV services lost 5.9 million subscribers in 2019.

When counting subscribers for internet-delivered services, the total pay-TV market shed about 4.9 million subscribers last year, which LRG says is up from 1.585 million in 2018, a huge jump. (It’s worth noting that last year at this time LRG reported a subscriber contraction of ~2.9 million, a figure which may have since been revised.)

Based on an analysis of the annual reports released by LRG, the pay-TV market’s churn rate has steadily increased since 2014, when pay-TV providers lost less than 126,000 subscribers, indicating that cord-cutting has yet to slow down.

With the exception of internet-delivered services, all types of providers continue to see losses:

  • The top telephone providers – such as Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse – lost 7.4% of their video subscribers after losing 2.6% in the year before;
  • The churn rate for top satellite TV services was 12.7%, compared to 7.5% in 2018; and
  • The top 7 cable companies shed 3.3% of video subscribers, up from a loss of 1.9% in 2018.

The current pandemic may have stem the tide of pay-TV subscriber churn this year. Recent data shows that two-thirds (66%) of pay-TV subscribers are less likely to cancel their service due to the current situation.

Meanwhile, at the same time that pay-TV subscriptions are falling, separate data from LRG shows that the broadband subscriber market is thriving. The top broadband companies – representing 96% of the market – added about 2.5 million net subscribers last year.

Cable companies such as Comcast and Charter had another good year on this front, adding more than 3.1 million broadband subscribers. Wireline phone companies, on the other hand, lost about 620,000 broadband subscribers (compared to about 410,000 in 2018).

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