Traditional multichannel providers, such as cable, direct broadcast satellite (DBS) and telcos, lost 860,640 video subscribers in the second quarter of this year, according to a new report from S&P Global Market Intelligence’s Kagan arm. The data suggests that as of June 30, 2018, there were 92.2 million subscribers in the US, which accounts for 89.4 million residential customers. Of the traditional options, DBS (Satellite-based TV) saw the greatest quarter losses (478,000 customers) which the report states represents “its second largest quarterly decline on record.” Although in reality, cable did not fare much better with 2018 losses (Q1 and Q2 combined) understood to be in the region of 685,790 - with the second quarter representing cable's largest “video subscriber drop since 2015.”
While these figures suggest traditional providers are continuing to lose customers at a heightened rate, the bigger picture is not quite as clear-cut as that, with Kagan stating the pressure on these providers actually lessened in the second quarter. The reason being, and in spite of the customer losses through traditional TV consumption methods, the increase in the use of virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) went a long way in offsetting against those losses - by as much as 45-percent overall. In other words, when factoring in vMVPDs, the number of multichannel subscribers in the US rose from the 92.2 million to 93.5 million. A figure which also represented a 75-percent residential multichannel penetration rate.
In the report, Kagan specifically draws on the popularity of DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV as two of the vMVPDs that have directly contributed to the lessening of losses. This is important to note, as although these two specific vMVPD options are seen as competitors to cable providers and satellite services, DIRECTV NOW is owned by a cable provider (AT&T) and and Sling TV is owned by a satellite service (DISH Network). Therefore, from the perspective of these two multichannel providers in particular, almost half of the lost subscribers overall were not lost in the traditional sense, as they had simply switched to an alternative method of consuming the same content. The switching and not declining point tallies well with another report that came through this week based on data collected by comScore.