Top 9 cable, satellite and telco pay-TV operators in Q4: Ranking Comcast to TWC to Charter to Cablevision

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Now that the fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 earnings season is in the rearview, it's time to assess the damage. FierceCable has assembled a complete look at the fourth-quarter earnings season, ranking the top cable, satellite and telco pay-TV operators and offering a look at their performance in a number of key metrics, including subscriber growth and average revenues per user (ARPU).

To see our full reporting on the fourth quarter, click here. And to see how this report changed from the previous quarter, click here.

First, let's look at the top pay-TV operators, ranked by number of subscribers. This list, from Strategy Analytics, ranks the nation's operators and provides their quarterly net adds/losses and ARPU:

Top US Pay TV Service Provider Metrics Q4 2015 (ranking by subscribers)
  Service Provider Platform Subscribers (millions) Net Adds ARPU*
1 AT&T IPTV + Satellite 26.133 -26,000 $120.59
2 Comcast Cable 22.347 89,000 $144.90
3 Dish Network Satellite 13.897 -12,000 $86.79
4 Time Warner Cable Cable 10.821 54,000 $76.34
5 Verizon IPTV 5.827 20,000 n/a
6 Charter Cable 4.322 29,000 $90.00
7 Cox Cable 4.121 -38,000 n/a

Jason Blackwell, director of service provider strategies in Strategy Analytics' Digital Consumer Practice, said the top pay-TV providers added a combined 116,000 TV subscribers during the fourth quarter. Blackwell added that AT&T, in the wake of its completed acquisition of satellite provider DirecTV, saw a significant quarterly increase to its ARPU, rising 5.4 percent from $114.40 in the third quarter to $120.59 in the fourth quarter.

To put these numbers into context, the analysts at investment banking firm Evercore ISI offer a look at how the operators break out in terms of market share:

Next, Jackdaw Research analyst Jan Dawson provides an additional look at the performance of the nation's top pay TV operators in the fourth quarter with these key slides:

Dawson also ranks the top 9 pay-TV operators in the United States and shows how their subscriber bases have changed during the past year:

Top 9 Q4 2014 Q1 2015 Q2 2015 Q3 2015 Q4 2015
AT&T-DirecTV 25,537 25,646 25,490 25,424 25,398
Comcast 22,383 22,375 22,306 22,258 22,347
DirecTV 19,617 19,677 19,544 19,570 19,784
DISH 13,978 14,013 13,932 13,909 13,897
Time Warner Cable 10,789 10,819 10,774 10,767 10,821
AT&T 5,920 5,969 5,946 5,854 5,614
Verizon 5,649 5,739 5,765 5,807 5,827
Charter 4,160 4,153 4,120 4,132 4,160
Cablevision 2,681 2,653 2,637 2,604 2,594

Next MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett checks in with a different look at the overall pay TV industry, with a chart showing the subscriber growth of the pay TV market from 2006 to the fourth quarter of 2015:

Finally, the analysts at Evercore look at the overall penetration of pay TV from 2013 to the fourth quarter of this year, according to data from the companies, Evercore itself, SNL Kagan and the U.S. Census Bureau's Housing Vacancy Survey.

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