Every Pay TV Company Loses Subscribers in Quarter Two


Staff member
The second quarter of each year is generally bad for pay-TV companies, but subscriber losses this year reached new heights.

The 11 biggest pay-TV providers in the US, representing 95 percent of the market, lost 665,000 net video subscribers in Q2 2016, Leichtman Research Group reported today. This is more than double the losses of two years ago. Previously, the companies lost 545,000 subscribers in Q2 2015, 300,000 in Q2 2014, and 350,000 in Q2 2013.

This year's Q2 net losses "surpass[ed] the previous quarterly low set in last year's second quarter," said the research group president, Bruce Leichtman. The group's data goes back to 2001.

The only major TV service to add subscribers was DirecTV, which gained 342,000 in the quarter to boost its total to 20.5 million. But DirecTV is owned by AT&T, whose U-verse TV service lost 391,000 subscribers, resulting in a net loss for AT&T's pay-TV services. Comcast's net loss of 4,000 customers was its best second quarter result in more than 10 years, partly because of its new $15-per-month "cable streaming service." Charter, the new owner of Time Warner Cable, lost 143,000 subscribers to bring the newly merged company's total down to 17.3 million. Dish lost 281,000 and now has 13.6 million subscribers.
Read More: http://arstechnica.com/information-...ble-tv-company-lost-subscribers-last-quarter/

With free OTA broadcast TV and internet video, $100 a month just doesn't make financial sense.
I wonder if Dish's total includes the Sling streaming service that it bought awhile back. That's how I get my pay TV channels. It's $20-25 for 30-40 channels--more per channel than cable, but a lot less than most cable bills and a much higher percentage of channels I actually want!

I can mix-and-match packages instead of just adding more channels. So, $5/month for the full ESPN and NBC Sports package. $5 per month for a package that includes 5 EPIX networks and Sundance Channel (my girlfriend wanted to watch "The A-Word"). No contract, cancel any package at any time. So, I add sports during football season. And, I can set the picture quality to a level that won't spike even my old 250GB data cap (now at 600GB and it's going up to 1TB starting August 21). With the packages I've added, I actually pay $45/month. Slightly more than if I bundled U-Verse, but again, no contract, and I can quickly and easily drop it to only $20 if I want.

Pay TV is dying, and Millenials and Gen-Xers are leading the way into streaming, and Gen-Xers and Boomers are getting more involved in OTA, with some Millenials waking up to OTA's offerings. Pay TV will be changing, and the Pay TV providers' only response is to incentivize people to get Pay TV, such as NBC-Comcast's requirement that you have a qualifying (non-streaming) cable/satellite subscription to stream the Olympics on their mobile app. Standard Operating Procedure for a mature, declining industry.
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AT&T recently added data caps to their internet only subscribers, They only allow 600GB per billing cycle unless you subscribe to one of their pay TV services, then no data cap limits. Bad...No, dumb idea for AT&T to pull that kind of shat in areas where folks can simply switch to Time Warner or other alternative internet services with no data caps.

Apparently AT&T is learning the hard way via losing customers because they have recently extended their data cap limits to 1 terabyte per billing cycle, at least in certain areas. I'm thinking the increase is in areas that has competition to take away their subscribers. So sad for AT&T. :)

I'm also thinking that Sling TV and OTA is making those greedy pay TV suits desperate.


250 GB equals about 250 hours of web video. You would need to watch 8 hours per day to hit it.
I don't think we ever went over 500 GB per billing cycle but that's because when AT&T set these data cap limits, I set the picture quality to standard definition on Sling TV and Netflix. Seems like a waste since like most folks nowadays, we have HD TV's and want to watch TV shows in HD when available.

The thing is, if you want to view your programs in HD, it'll cost you around 3 GB per hour, and God forbid you have an Ultra HD TV set and want to get your money's worth out of that TV set. You're looking at 7 GB per hour for UHD. Not to mention if you have two, three, or four people in your household streaming video, you're gonna hit them data caps real fast. Four peoples equals two hours of streaming a day...in standard definition.

Saying you can stream video 8 hours a day on 600 GB per billing cycle is just not realistic unless you only stream to one TV and that TV has a picture tube.
Depends on the quality of the video.

I have two adults, a 19 year old, and a 21 year old in my house. Between Sling/Netflix/Hulu/Amazon and all of the gaming, we burn through about 450GB per month.

We also live in one of the areas that was boosted to 1TB yesterday. We're pulling 24Mbps, but the bandwidth in the neighborhood doesn't support a high-quality image.

I've currently got most services at minimum quality or set to 720p instead of 1080p/1080i. If it gives me the option. All of my Rokus are set to 720p, or are plugged in to an old SD tube TV.
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