Total U.S. Subscriber Amount for Live TV Streaming Services Passes 14 Million in Q3 - Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV in the Lead
Virtual MVPDs in the U.S. are making a comeback since over a year ago, when Sling TV and DIRECTV STREAM (then AT&T TV) lost a combined 300,000+ subscribers in Q4 2020. Now in Q3 2022, MoffettNathanson’s quarterly Cord Cutting Monitor report estimates that vMVPDs have about 14.2 million combined subscribers after adding approximately 980,000 subscribers.
The two live TV streaming services in the lead are Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV. For instance, during the third quarter, Hulu + Live TV added 300,000 subscribers whereas YouTube TV added 225,000 subscribers. However, compared to the same quarter of 2020, Hulu + Live TV had 700,000 additions and YouTube TV had an estimated 400,000. This may be due to the price increases, especially Hulu raising its prices by $5 in December, 2021.
MoffettNathanson noted that vMVPD subscriber growth was down significantly from the same quarter of 2020 when Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV, YouTube TV, DIRECTV Stream, fuboTV and Philo added an estimated 1.7 million subscribers.
Despite the numbers being down, vMVPD subscriber growth accelerated quarter over quarter, giving the U.S. vMVPD category a significant boost in subscribers. fuboTV, for example, had 262,884 net subscribers in the third quarter, which was more than added in all of 2020. Since then, the service eclipsed one million total.
Craig Moffett wrote, “No doubt part of the problem for vMVPDs is that their pricing is increasing converging on, well, reality.”
Meanwhile, YouTube TV had already increased its price in 2020 and according to YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan, there were no plans for a price hike in 2021 and they have since stuck to their word. But MoffettNathanson thinks they will increase it again anyways.
2021 also saw price jumps for DIRECTV STREAM (went up by $10), Sling TV (increased plans by $5), along with fuboTV who not only bumped up their prices in 2020 but the CEO has also said that they can afford to increase it even more.
“Recall that the vMVPD category is still only around six years old. Six years ago, everyone burst out of the gate with eye-poppingly low prices. That helped them get out of the gate quickly, but it undermined their longer-term prospects in two ways,” said Moffett. “First, they naturally attracted price sensitive customers, for whom regular price increase would be particularly irksome. Second, they painted themselves into the unenviable corner of having to raise prices even faster than their traditional distributor piers in order to accommodate the inevitable rate increases they would face from their content partners.”