Major Pay TV Operators Shed 5 Million Subscribers in 2023

The major pay TV operators shed 5.035 million subscribers in 2023, according to an analysis by Leichtman Research Group, bringing the total net losses in the past five years to over 20 million. The firm estimates that the companies ended the year with roughly 71.3 million video customers, compared to 91.5 million at the end of 2018.

The cable giants, which include Charter Communications, Comcast, Altice, Breezeline, Cable One and other major private companies, have a total of roughly 34.1 million video subscribers. Together, the companies lost over 3.82 million subscribers during the year, compared to a loss of 3.54 million in 2022.

Charter is the leader with 14.122 million subscribers, followed by Comcast with 14.106 million, Altice with 2.26 million, Breezeline with 280,145, Cable One with 142,300 and other major private companies with 3.14 million.

Other traditional pay-TV services, which include DirecTV, Dish TV, Verizon Fios and Frontier, reported a total of 21 million subscribers. The companies collectively lost more than 3.1 million video customers in 2023, compared to a loss of 2.72 million in 2022.

Leichtman estimates that DirecTV led the pack with 11.3 million subscribers, including DIRECTV, U-verse, and DIRECTV Stream.

Dish followed closely behind with 6.471 million subscribers, while Verizon Fios and Frontier reported 3.012 million and 234,000, respectively.

Meanwhile, internet-delivered pay-TV services, which include YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV and Fubo, reported a total of 16.2 million subscribers. The virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributors, or vMVPDs, collectively added 1.895 million subscribers in 2023, compared to a gain of 1.67 million in 2022.

YouTube TV reported a total of more than 8 million subscribers in February. Leichtman estimates that 7.9 million of those subscribers are in residential households. Elsewhere, Hulu + Live TV reported a total of 4.6 million subscribers, while Sling TV and Fubo reported 2.055 million and 1.618 million, respectively.

The latest data from Leichtman Research comes as the London-based research firm Ampere Analysis predicts that global pay TV penetration, or the number of pay TV subscriptions relative to the number of households, will record its first ever annual decline in 2024. The firm also expects streaming revenue will overtake pay TV revenue in 2024, bolstered by the uptick in ad-supported tier offerings.

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