Whatever optimism there was around the prospects for traditional pay TV video subscriber growth was snuffed out in the third quarter, as the sector shed more than 1.2 million customers, according to Kagan, a unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Accelerated satellite TV subscriber losses and sluggish growth from virtual MVPDs like Sling TV and DirecTV Now stamped out any improvements in the cable sector.
Kagan's numbers are higher than MoffettNathanson principal and senior analyst Craig Moffett's estimates -- earlier this month he saw the sector, including vMVPDs, declining by about 709,000 subscribers in Q3. According to Moffett, traditional pay TV companies lost 1.1 million video customers while vMVPDs added 414,000 customers. Kagan did not break out individual sector results, but the message was the same -- cord cutting appears to be accelerating.
According to Kagan, vMVPDs Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue gained an estimated 2.1 million subs in the trailing nine months, compared a decline of 2.8 million in the traditional segment.
Kagan said residential penetration rates were 76.2% when traditional and vMVPDs were considered. Satellite -- led by a loss of 367,000 customers at Dish -- had its worst quarter on record according to Kagan, with a loss of 726,000 subscribers. Cable operators, according to Kagan, lost nearly 1.1 million subscribers year-to-date as of Sept. 30, the sector’s worst 9-month performance since 2014. Traditional telco subscriptions were down by 94,000 in the period, with Verizon losing 63,000 subscribers on its own.