Cable cutting continued at a steady pace in 2018, as cable and satellite TV providers in the United States lost more than 3 million video subscribers, a new report from Leichtman Research Group tell.
Satellite TV services were hit even harder. AT&T-owned DirecTV lost 1.24 million subscribers and ended 2018 with 19.2 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Dish lost 1.13 million subscribers and ended 2018 with 9.9 million. DirecTV’s combined and Dish losses of 2.36 million customers in 2018 are from the company’s combined loss of 1.55 million in 2017.
The top cable companies—Comcast, Charter, Cox, Altice, Mediacom, and Cable One—lost a combined 910,000 TV subscribers in 2018, up from a combined loss of 660,000 in 2017. The six companies combined 47 million TV subscribers at the end of 2018.
DirecTV and Satellite made up some of their subscriber losses by limiting customers to online versions of their services. DirecTV Now — AT&T’s online version of DirecTV — gained 436,000 subscribers in 2018 to bring it up to a total of 1.59 million. Dish-owned Sling TV received 205,000 customers, achieving a total of 2.42 million. Despite being delivered over the Internet, both DirecTV Now and Sling TV are pay-as-you-go services that are functionally similar to traditional cable and satellite TV.
Leichtman’s tally also includes TV services offered by major phone companies, namely Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse, and Frontier. These three services lost a total of 244,000 TV subscribers in 2018, dropping to 8.99 million in total, despite U-foot gaining 47,000.
Broadband subscriptions rise
By contrast, Leichtman’s study of the US broadband market found that cable companies added 2.9 million Internet subscribers in 2018, achieving a total of 64.3 million.
DSL and cable companies lost 472,000 broadband subscribers in 2018, dropping to a total of 33.9 million.
Cable companies have tried to stop video losses by installing data caps on their microphone services. This makes it difficult for consumers to completely rely on streaming. But rising cable costs and poor customer service have helped drive cable TV users to streaming services anyway.
Online streaming is going up
Leichtman’s video data is for cable TV providers, and does not include streaming options like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. That part of the market is clearly soaring, though. In the US, Netflix reported 58.5 million paid members at the end of Q4 2018, up from 52.8 million in the previous year. Hulu said that it hit 25 million US subscribers in 2018, up 48 percent year on year.
Amazon Prime Video is bundled with a lot of other Prime services, so specific Prime Video data is hard to come by. Data published by Reuters A year ago it showed that Amazon had about 26 million viewers in the US.