Presenting fresh numbers that could add fuel to the cord-cutting debate, Leichtman Research Group said the thirteen largest pay-TV operators in the U.S., representing about 95% of the market, shed about 150,000 net video subs in the third quarter.
That result, representing more net losses than in any previous third quarter, compared to a net loss of just 25,000 subs in the year-ago period, LRG said.
The U.S.’s top MVPDs ended the quarter with 95.3 million subs. The top nine cable MSOs had nearly 49.5 million video subs at the end of the period, followed by DirecTV and Dish Network (34.2 million collectively), and the top telcos (11.6 million).
Broken down by segment, the top nine cable MSOs lost about 440,000 video subs in the third quarter, narrowed from a loss of 600,000 a year earlier. Satellite TV providers shed 40,000 subs, versus a gain of 174,000 in the year-ago period, while the biggest U.S. telco TV providers added 330,000 video subs, down from the 400,000 net additions in the third quarter of 2013.
Despite the sluggish third quarter, LRG says providers should be able to turn the tide in the fourth quarter.
“The pay-TV industry is characterized by seasonality. While the first and second quarters of 2014 showed slight industrywide improvements over 2013, the third quarter was down from a year ago,” said LRG president and principal analyst Bruce Leichtman, in a statement. “If recent history is an indicator, the pay-TV industry will follow the fourth quarter trend, and close 2014 with a modest subscriber gain in the quarter.”