Cord cutting accelerated to record speed in the second quarter, with the major U.S. pay TV operators reporting an all-time-worst loss of 1.53 million subscribers during the period.
How bad was it? Real bad.
The tally comes from Leichtman Research. It measured the top 14 platforms, which it says service 93% of U.S. pay TV subscribers. Notable is Leitchman’s estimate of 778,000 lost DirecTV subscribers for the second quarter. DirecTV had more than 21 million subscribers when AT&T purchased it. And when combined with U-verse, the company controlled 26 million TV users, making it the largest U.S. pay TV company. But the massive one-quarter erosion dropped the satellite operator below 18 million subscribers. As of the end of Q2, AT&T had about 36,000 fewer customers than Comcast, according to Leichtman.
But things were tough all over. Every major linear pay TV service lost subscribers in Q2. And the only platform measured by Leichtman to grow was Sling TV, which added 48,000 users during the quarter.
The industry lost only 420,000 users in the second quarter of 2018.
Satellite TV continued to sustain the heaviest losses, with DirecTV in the red for customer growth for a fifth consecutive quarter. Notably, however, for Dish Network, its reported loss of 78,000 users represented its best outcome since the fourth quarter of 2014.
Leichtman’s tally mainly includes numbers publicly reported in earnings reports. But there are a few interesting estimates and surprises. Privately held Cox Communications, it said, lost 40,000 TV users in the second quarter, the research company says. Leichtman also added numbers for Atlantic Broadband for the first time.