With virtual MVPDs continuing to take on new customers at a healthy clip, keeping customers in the pay TV ecosystem, cord cutting dropped significantly for the second straight quarter, according to Leichtman Research Group.
Cable, satellite and telco TV operators reported collective losses of 416,962 customers in the second quarter, down from 655,000 in the second quarter of 2017.
AT&T’s virtual DirecTV Now platform added 342,000 customers during the three-month period ending June 30, offsetting a loss of 286,000 by the DirecTV satellite platform.
Virtual MVPD market leader Sling TV, meanwhile, added only 41,000 customers, but erosion to the sibling Dish Network satellite TV service slowed to 192,000. (Notably, AT&T’s U-verse platform reported growth of 23,000 TV users—it’s first positive metric since the first quarter of 2015.)
Overall, Leichtman found that the top pay TV operators, collectively controlling 95% of the U.S. market, lost nearly 800,000 users in the second quarter. But the virtual services operated by the two satellite companies returned nearly half that loss. The research company doesn’t even account for refugees sent to rival vMVPD services like Hulu With Live TV, YouTube TV, fuboTV and Sony PlayStation Vue.
“This newer segment of the industry has helped to mitigate overall pay-TV losses, while also contributing to a share shift from traditional services," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc. "This shift is both a product of consumers opting for more economical services, as well as changes in providers’ strategies.”
Notably, traditional services lost 930,000 in the second quarter of 2017—indicating some level of stabilization beyond just the impact of virtual services.
Leichtman also reported a drop in pay TV customer attrition to 305,000 in the first quarter—a decline from 515,000 in Q1 2017