Leichtman: Pay TV Added 10K Subs in Q1

U-Verse losses mute traditionally strong period

Leichtman Research Group estimated that the pay TV business added about 10,000 video subscribers in the first quarter, a number that could have been bigger if not for heavy losses at AT&T’s U-verse.

According to LRG president and principal analyst Bruce Leichtman, the pay TV business ended the first quarter with 94.1 million video customers – 49.1 million from the cable sector, 34 million from satellite and 11.1 million from telco TV providers.

The top nine cable providers added 50,000 video customers in the quarter compared to a loss of 65,000 in the prior year. Satellite TV service providers added 305,000 customers, compared to a gain of 95,000 in the previous year. The satellite numbers were bolstered by contributions from Dish Network’s over-the-top service, Sling TV.  Not including Sling TV, satellite added about 175,000 net new subscribers in the period, compared to a loss of 74,000 in Q1 2015.

The top telco TV providers lost 344,000 subscribers in the quarter, compared to a gain of 140,000 customers last year. Driving those result was a loss of 380,000 subscribers at U-Verse, which Leichtman called the largest quarterly loss by any single provider ever.

“While DirecTV and top cable providers had a comparatively strong quarter in 1Q 2016, their gains were largely offset by a historically weak quarter for AT&T U-verse,” Leichtman said in a statement. “Overall, the traditionally strong first quarter for the pay-TV industry was tepid this year. Despite slight gains in the quarter, net adds in 1Q 2016 were down by about 160,000 from a year ago.”