The total number of pay TV subscribers declined for the first time in at least a decade. The decline was on an annual basis. Cable operators lost the most customers.
In aggregate, the 13 largest multichannel video program distributors (MVPD) in the U.S. added about 195,000 net additional video subscribers in Q1 2013.
A year ago, in the first quarter of 2012, the industry gained 445,000 subs; the year prior to that, in the first quarter of 2011, they added a net gain of about 470,000.
The number of new subscribers in the most recently completed quarter was not enough to offset customer losses in the second and third quarters of 2012, leaving the pay TV with its first annual loss of subscribers ever.
According to numbers compiled by Leichtman Research Group, (LRG), the thirteen largest MVPDs, who together represent about 94 percent of the market, had an aggregate annual net loss of about 80,000 subscribers. That compares to a net gain of about 380,000 over the prior year.
The thirteen largest MVPDs account for about 94.9 million subscribers. There are nine cable companies on the list, and together they represent over 51 million video subscribers. The two satellite TV companies together have 34.2 million subscribers, and the two telephone companies on the list have the balance – nearly 9.7 million subs.
LRG calculates that the cable companies lost an aggregate of about 264,000 video subscribers in Q1 2013, and about a 1.5 million over the past year (about the same as the number that MSOs lost during the year prior to that, from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012).
The telcos added 401,000 video subscribers in Q1 2013, and 1,319,000 over the past year, compared to 1,475,000 net additions over the prior year.
Satellite TV providers, meanwhile, added 57,000 subs in Q1 2013. That was their lowest gain in any Q1 over the past decade. On an annual basis, they added 160,000 subscribers over the past year, compared to a gain of 439,000 over the prior year.
Subscribers at the end of Q1 2013
Net Adds in Q1 2013
Net Adds in Past Year
Other major private companies*
Total Top Cable
Satellite TV Companies (DBS)
Total Top DBS
Total Top Phone
Total Multi-channel Video