Wells Fargo Securities broadcasting and cable analyst Marci Ryvicker estimated that the digital transition added about 653,000 new subscribers to cable, satellite and telco companies, but said that cable operators, which reaped big benefits from the transition in the first quarter, won't likely see another big boost from the federal initiative until the third quarter.
Ryvicker, in a research note Tuesday, estimated that the bulk of the benefit from the digital transition - originally slated for Feb. 17 but extended to June 12 - occurred for cable in the first quarter. Overall, Ryvicker estimated that pay and 47,000 at DirecTV. That growth is expected to slow down to 122,337 in the second quarter and tick back up to 162,304 in the third quarter, according to Ryvicker's estimates.
Cable operators are expected to gain the most through the DTV transition (475,000 subscribers) according to Ryvicker, followed by satellite TV (137,000) and the telcos (41,000).
According to the analyst, satellite companies are expected to take the bulk of DTV addition in the second quarter - DirecTV is expected to add 29,777 customers and Dish Network 22,333, compared to 18,255 for Time Warner Cable and 20,374 for Comcast. But that is expected to change in the third quarter, with Time Warner Cable gaining 51,935 new customers and Comcast adding 59,406 while DirecTV and Dish add 1,567 customers and 1,175 customers, respectively.
Ryvicker's reasoning for the disparity is primarily accounting issues - cable companies normally tally subscriber numbers one to two weeks prior to the quarter's end. She estimated that cable operators likely began counting customers on June 15.
"This means that the cable companies may have only had three days of the post-digital transition effect (i.e. June 13, 14 and 15) in Q2," Ryvicker wrote. "Any subsequent [over the air] households converting to pay-TV will be counted in Q3."