The number of homes subscribing to pay TV is down 2.3% from last year, according to estimates for August released by Nielsen.
According to Brian Wieser, analyst at Pivotal Research Group, the impact is larger on individual cable networks, which, on average, lost 2.7% of their penetration.
“The gaps between the two figures are consistent with the notion that cord shaving is impacting owners of cable networks,” Wieser said in a report.
In the short term, the decline in Nielsen numbers doesn’t hurt cable networks financially because most contract call for minimum payments. But over the longer run, it should affect distribution revenue, Wieser says.
But at a time when the industry and Wall Street is concerned about the impact of cord cutting and cord shaving on the financial health of the pay TV ecosystem, seeing bellwether networks like ESPN down 4% and ESPN2 down 4.1% could cause concern.