So, How Many Subscribers Fled MVPDs In Q3?


Don’t think “cord-cutting” is a reality for multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs)? Just-released data from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Kagan group shows that multichannel video subscriptions cut short “a brief wave of optimism for the sector” in Q3.

In all, more than a million subscribers were lost in the three month period.

Accelerating losses from satellite providers and weakening net adds from IP-based services including Sling TV, from DISH Network, and AT&T’s DirecTV Now and other virtual multichannel alternatives drove the overall decline.

Combined, the cable, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) and telco multichannel sectors lost 1.2 million video subscribers in the three-month period ended Sept. 30, ending the quarter at 91.0 million, including 88.2 million residential customers.

Kagan’s quarterly analysis now includes total virtual multichannel subscriptions from services such as Sling TV, DirecTV Now, Hulu with Live TV, YouTube TV and PlayStation Vue. The combined virtual platforms gained an estimated 2.1 million subs in the trailing 9 months, compared a decline of 2.8 million in the traditional segment.

The residential penetration rate stood at 76.2% at the end of Q3, when including traditional multichannel and the estimated virtual multichannel universe.

Just how painful was Q3 for MVPDs, according to Kagan?

  • DBS had its worst quarter on record, with a loss of 726,000 subscribers. This, in part, is due to DISH Network’s ongoing impasse with Univision, which reach a new zenith today (11/13) with the expected loss of Univision Deportes Network due to the lack of a new retransmission fee agreement.
  • Cable operators lost nearly 1.1 million subscribers year-to-date as of Sept. 30, their worst performance at the three-quarter mark since 2014.
  • Traditional telco subscriptions fell by 94,000. By itself, Verizon shed a net 63,000 subs.