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Report: Pay-TV Providers Lost 2M Subscribers in Q1 2022

Tom Wilton

Major U.S. pay-TV services collectively lost almost 1.95 million subscribers in the first three months of this year, according to research outfit Leichtman Research Group (LRG). That compares with 1.91 million for the same period in 2021.

The losses were spread across large cable companies such as Cox and Comcast, along with satellite services like DIRECTV and Dish. LRG notes that, in aggregate, the biggest pay-TV companies account for 93% of the market.

Other key LRG findings show that cable shed approximately 825,00 subscribers in Q1 2022, up from the 780,000 it lost in Q1 2021. Meanwhile, internet-based pay-TV services (vMVPD) such as Sling TV and Hulu Live TV added 505,000 customers in Q1 of this year, which is a turnaround from the 265,000 they dropped in the same period of 2021.

Traditionally, the first quarter of every year sees significant subscriber declines as customers who specifically sign up to watch college and professional football re-cut the cord once the seasons are over.

Though vMVPD seems to be the bright spot for pay-TV providers, LRG says that they collectively only account for roughly 7.5 million subscribers. By contrast, top cable TV providers still serve some 40.5 million homes. Of course, as another point of comparison, Netflix has almost 75 million subscribers across North America (though its numbers are also dipping).

LRG’s findings follow a report from Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall, which concluded that pay-TV providers had lost some 2.2 million subscribers in Q1. Cahall also noted a slowdown in the growth of streaming platforms, projecting just 29 million new subscriptions over the opening quarter of 2022., compared with 42 million over the same period of 2021.

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