Pay-TV subscriber losses hit the 1M mark in Q3, analyst predicts

Cord cutting
Both AT&T and Comcast are blaming disruption due to hurricane disasters, along with a palpable cord-cutting trend, for their subscriber woes.

With AT&T revealing this week that it lost around 390,000 linear satellite and telco TV customers in the third quarter, UBS analyst John Hodulik is predicting that the entire pay-TV sector hemorrhaged over 1 million customers during the three-month period. 

"We believe cord-cutting continues to gain steam as streaming builds momentum," said Hodulik in a report to investors. 

Comcast, which had seen renewed vigor in its video business with the proliferation of its X1 platform, stated last month that it expects Q3 losses of around 150,000. Both AT&T and Comcast are blaming disruption due to hurricane disasters, along with a palpable cord-cutting trend, for their subscriber woes. 

RELATED: AT&T says it lost 390K linear pay-TV subscribers in Q3

According to Leichtman Research Group, the top 11 providers representing more than 95% of the U.S. pay-TV market lost around 374,000 customers in the third quarter. Dish Network’s modest gains for its virtual Sling TV platform slightly offset what was an even greater loss for all linear platforms. 

With AT&T also revealing that DirecTV Now—the virtual MVPD it launched in the fourth quarter of 2016—gained 300,000 customers in Q3, the cord-cutting math becomes trickier. AT&T’s net losses, for example, come to only 90,000 pay-TV users once DirecTV Now’s gains are factored in. 

UBS estimates that DirecTV Now currently has around 760,000 users; it pegs Sling TV’s user base at 1.8 million. It also estimates insurgent vMVPD services operated by YouTube and Hulu at around 175,000 to 180,000 apiece. 

A number of analysts also predicted that the U.S. pay-TV market would lose over 1 million subscribers in the second quarter. The market came close, losing around 975,000.