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After The Worst Quarter in Pay TV History, Live TV Streaming Services Reached 8 Million Subscribers

Jason Gurwin

At The Pay TV Show this morning, Marci Ryvicker of Wolfe Research and Ian Olgeirson of Kagan joined Rob Pegoraro of Yahoo! Finance to discuss the acceleration of cord-cutting. Kagan believes that after cable and satellite companies lost 1.35mm subscribers this past quarter — 511K of them switched to a vMVPD services — giving the overall vMVPD market 8mm subscribers. Given that we know DIRECTV NOW lost 83K subscribers last quarter, while Sling TV added 7K — the rest of those services added 463K subscribers — with most of that going to Hulu Live TV and YouTube TV.

One of the reasons Wolfe’s Ryvicker feels that Sling TV has seen growth slow is that they don’t have locals. While Kagan’s Olgeirson feels thats a differentiator. “Most services feel that they need it, Sling doesn’t.” Since locals generally costs $10 a subscriber per month, by not including them they are able to keep prices low. What’s surprising though is despite the fact that subscribers can get these channels for free with an antenna, they’d rather pay a service to deliver them.

Ryvicker feels that cord-cutting is no longer just millennials. “I don’t think it’s just millennials. A lot of families are figuring out the best entertainment options for their family.” Whether this means they’re switching to a vMVPD or SVOD service like Netflix, they are looking for other ways to consume content.

This means that cable operators may continue to move to only offering internet. “It’s bifurcated,” said Ryvicker. “Cable operators that don’t have scale are paying $15 more per sub than Comcast. We want to keep the household, so we’re willing to let video go.”