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.