Report: Another 665K People Just Dumped Cable TV

cutting_the_cable_cord

Are consumers getting bolder about cutting the cord?

That’s the takeaway from Leichtman Research Group, a media and research firm, which found the 11 largest pay-TV providers, making up about 95% of the pay-TV market in the U.S., lost about 665,000 net subscribers in the second quarter of 2016.

Though the second quarter is traditionally a slow time, this quarter’s lows surpassed the previous quarterly low set in last year’s second quarter, Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst of the firm, said in the statement.

According to Leichtman, Charter, Time Warner Cable’s new parent company, lost a significant number of customers (143,000), while DISH lost 281,000. AT&T U-verse fared the worst, with 391,000 customers dropping subscriptions.

Interestingly, Leichtman said the only company to add any customers in the second quarter was AT&T’s subsidiary DIRECTV, which net 342,000, bringing its total to about 20.5 million customers. Per Leichtman’s press release, “net additions reflect pro forma results from system sales and acquisitions, and reporting adjustments — therefore, comparing totals in this release to prior releases may not produce accurate findings.”

Credit.com reached out to every company in the release for comment, some of whom were unavailable.

Maureen Huff, spokesperson for Charter, pointed to this phrase from the cable company’s press release for the second quarter of this year. “On a pro forma basis,” it read, “total customer relationships increased 173,000 during the second quarter, compared to 54,000 during the second quarter of 2015, and for the 12 months ended June 30, 2016, grew by 1,251,000, or 5.1%.”

“Verizon lost Fios subscribers due to the strike,” wrote Eric Wilkens, senior analyst, External Communications, in an email. “We’ll be back to normal levels in the third quarter.”

Writing via email that “the report doesn’t put the numbers into context,” an AT&T spokesperson said the company is the world’s largest pay-TV company with over 25.3 million subscribers, including U-Verse and DIRECTV (U.S. and Latin America operations). What’s more, “the company added 342,000 U.S. DIRECTV subscribers.” A total of 391,000 U-Verse subscribers were lost during the second quarter, the spokesperson added.

Said John Hall, corporate communications for DISH, via email: “I don’t think we’ll have anything to add beyond what we’ve said on our most recent earnings call.”

Comcast, Altice, Mediacom, Cable ONE and Frontier did not respond to Credit.com’s request for comment.

When Considering Cable

Cable providers have had a lot more competition in recent years, given the growing availability of streaming services. These services don’t generally require a credit check and typically feature much lower monthly rates — though subscribers may not get access to all their favorite shows and live television events.

If you’re thinking of switching cable providers, it’s important to know where your credit stands, as it isn’t uncommon for cable companies to run a credit check when you apply. If you have bad credit, you may even be asked to pay a larger deposit. You can view your free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com. And if you’re not sure how to make sense of them, check out our tips for understanding your credit score here.

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A New Law Could Make Canceling Comcast as Easy as One Click

How to Avoid Wasting Thousands on a New Computer

Canceling your cable subscription can be easier said than done. Major providers generally require subscribers to call if they want to disconnect service, as this gives the sales agents an opportunity to talk the consumer out of their decision. (Listen to this viral phone call in which podcast host Ryan Block tries for eight minutes to cancel his Comcast subscription.) On top of that, many customers sign a contract that requires them to pay hefty early termination fees if they want to pull the plug before its end date.

California Assemblyman Mike Gatto proposed an in-state bill that could address the first hassle by requiring companies that allow online cable or internet subscriptions to also allow customers to cancel those services with just one click.

“It just makes sense, that if you are able to sign up for a service online, you should also be able to cancel it the same way,” Gatto said in a press release.

Gatto’s press release goes on to mention Block, who purportedly spent 18 minutes on the phone with a Comcast representative trying to cancel his service and arrange for return of his cable card.

Comcast declined to comment on the bill, citing that the proposal is not a Comcast-specific issue. It directed Credit.com to the California Cable and Telecommunications Association, which did not immediately respond with comment.

Paying for Cable

Gatto’s bill would have to pass before any change to the current system would be implemented — and, even then, it would be restricted to California.

If you currently feel you’re paying too much for your cable service, you can call your provider to see if they offer a “skinny” package, which is a slimmed-down list of channels for a lower price. You also might research prices of different cable packages in your area and then either switch your service or use the possibility of cancellation to broker a better deal with your current provider.

In either case, it could help to improve your credit beforehand, as providers generally offer lower rates and fees to people with good credit scores. You can see where you currently stand by viewing your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com. If your score is in rough shape, you can fix your credit by disputing any errors on your credit report, addressing your credit score killers and focus on maintaining smart spending habits, like making all payments on time.

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Image: Ingram Publishing

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