Top U.S. Pay-TV Operators Shed 25,000 Subs in Q3

Compared To A Loss of 50,000 In Year-Ago Period, LRG Says

The top 13 multichannel video distributors in the U.S., equal to about 94% of the market, lost about 25,000 net video subscribers in the third quarter, versus a loss of about 50,000 in the year-ago period, Leitchman Research Group revealed in a report issued Monday.

The top nine cable operators lost about 600,000 video subs, that group’s highest quarterly loss since the third quarter of 2010, LRG said, adding that Time Warner Cable’s loss of 300,000 subs in the quarter, attributed in part to its spat with CBS, marked the highest quarter losses every for any multi-channel video provider.

By comparison, DirecTV and Dish Network added 174,000 subs, up from 48,000 in a year-ago, while the top telcos added 400,000, up from 317,000. AT&T U-verse TV’s net adds of 265,000 subs were its highest since the first quarter of 2009, and its second-best quarterly showing ever, LRG said.

At the end of the quarter, the top pay-TV providers studies accounted for nearly 94.5 million subs, with the top nine cable MSOs having about 49.9 million of that total, versus 34.2 million for satellite, and 10.4 million among the major telcos, LRG said.

“The multi-channel industry was essentially flat in the third quarter of 2013, with major providers as a whole performing slightly better than in the third quarter of 2012,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG, in a statement. “Quarterly losses for cable providers were exacerbated by Time Warner Cable’s programming dispute with CBS, but these losses benefitted Telco and DBS providers with higher subscriber gains than a year ago.”

Last week, MoffettNathanson Research partner and senior analyst Craig Moffett estimated that the U.S. pay-TV industry shed 113,000 subs, but said the pace of cord-cutting slowed in the quarter.