Cable and satellite TV customers continue their headlong flight toward streaming services. Bloomberg Intelligence found growing subscriber losses for the major U.S. providers in each of the past four quarters.
After losing 452,000 satellite TV customers in the first nine months of 2017, DirecTV will likely report even more attrition when parent company AT&T announces its fourth-quarter earnings Tuesday. “We expect an accelerating contraction of the video base, with a loss of 146,000 satellite subscribers, with little economic offset from a growing OTT business,” said MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett in a note to investors.
It is not exactly a secret that Dish Network has all but given up on its DBS service, choosing instead to concentrate on Sling TV while trying to squeeze out every last penny of profit from the satellite TV business. But the company’s income was way down in the second quarter, even taking into account the $280 million fine in the telemarketing case the company booked in the quarter. And all other key financial indicators declined in the quarter, except for slightly better churn.
Dish reports that it lost 196,000 net video subscribers in the second quarter, the continuation of a downward trend for the satcaster, and the pay TV industry as a whole. The satellite TV service lost fewer subs in this year’s second quarter compared to last year’s second quarter when it dropped 281,000 customers. However, Dish lost just 81,000 subscribers in the 2015 second quarter.
The FCC released a few details of its upcoming report on the state of video competition, which shows that the cable industry continues to lose subscribers to other pay-TV distributors including satellite broadcasters. From the end of 2010 to June last year, the number of pay TV subscribers increased slightly to 101 million from 100.8 million, less than a percentage point. However, cable’s share of subscribers fell to 55.7% from 59.3% at the end of 2011.
Cable and satellite TV service subscribers may not be cord-cutting or cord-shaving to any degree, according to one study, yet high levels of channel-surfing and growing use of services like Netflix could lead to more problems. Almost 70% say they are “always” or “sometimes” frustrated in trying to find something to watch.