Pay TV Just Lost One Million Subscribers In Biggest Quarterly Loss Ever

By Rob Toledo

An executive at a major cable company said a few years ago that cutting the cord was a fad, and would not impact business in the long term.

This conversation was over two years ago, and almost every quarter since then, we have written the same article: that a record number of people are cutting the cord, ditching their expensive cable packages for more more flexible streaming services.

BTIG media analyst Rich Greenfield tweeted this week that cable and satellite companies lost over one million subscribers in the last quarter. This is the biggest loss of subscribers in one quarter seen by the pay TV industry ever.

— Rich Greenfield (@RichBTIG) November 7, 2018

Let that sink in. Over one million (now former) subscribers ditched their cable in a three month period.

This is not an anomaly, as each quarter for at least the past three years has seen quarterly falloff of cable and satellite customers.

In 2016, there were an estimated 99 million pay TV subscribers in the United States, with each year seeing a big decline, with estimates expecting this number to keep dropping.

While it used to be fairly simple in that a consumer several years ago would cancel their subscription and simply sign up for Netflix, the number of streaming services is on a rapid rise as well, which analysts believe has accelerated the cancellation of cable.

Now, outside of just Netflix’s healthy growth, services like Hulu and Amazon Prime are seeing a big jump in subscriber numbers as well. Adding to this, the concept of live TV through streaming services seems to be getting more popular, with Hulu Live, Fubo, Playstation Vue, Sling, and a growing list of others, all offering skinny bundles for less than half the cost of a cable package.

This isn’t a fad, the number of pay TV subscribers is going to continue to go down, and we’ll see you in three months, when we’re reporting another big drop.