Report: Traditional Pay-TV Services Lost 3.5MM Subscribers in 2017



Shifting video viewing habits are leading to a decline in traditional pay TV services.


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It’s no secret that the TV landscape is changing. On-demand and over-the-top video consumption is on the rise, and new data suggests that most of this viewing takes place on TVs, not mobile.

As consumers flock toward subscription services, traditional pay-TV services are paying the price.

Per new nScreenMedia research, seven major services including DirecTV, Dish Network, Comcast, Charter, Altice, U-Verse, and FiOS collectively lost 3 million subscribers last year. These companies comprise 85 percent of all traditional pay TV subscribers, which declined an overall 3.5 million in 2017.

Out of this group, the service that suffered the hardest loss was Dish Network, losing 1.14 million subscribers, representing a 10 percent decline. AT&T U-verse was second in the list of hardest hit losing 17 percent or 622,000 subscribers due to shifting business to DirecTV services.

Additional relevant findings as aggregated by MediaPost include:

  • Overall satellite services were down 5.4 percent in 2017. Telco specifically lost 8.5 percent while cable operators saw a 1.2 percent decline.
  • MoffettNathanson Research estimates that new virtual MVPDs (multichannel video program distributors) grew by 2.6 million last year to 4.6 million. Particularly big players involved Google’s YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV, Sony PlayStation Vue, AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Dish’s Sling TV.
  • The report also claims that despite the 3.4 percent drop traditional pay-TV providers faced in the final quarter of 2017, when including virtual multichannel distributors, this number is really 0.7 percent, which is about equivalent (0.6 percent) to what was recorded in the fourth quarter of 2016.

For further insight on these trends, check out our recap of PQ Media’s latest Global Consumer Media Usage & Exposure Forecast. At a glance, similar findings were reported including that US consumers spent an average of 4.8 hours per day in the past year watching video, spanning live TV, OTT, mobile and internet accounting for over 50 percent of overall consumer media usage.

Further, OTT video was the only non-mobile media channel to exhibit double-digit growth between 2016 and 2017.

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