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Cable and satellite TV are sinking again as streaming online



  A person's hand holding a remote control with a Netflix button.

The cord chain continued at a steady rate in 2018, when cable and satellite television providers in the United States lost more than 3 million video subscribers, a new report from the Leichtman Research Group said.

Satellite TV services were particularly hard hit. AT&T owned DirecTV lost 1

.24 million subscribers and completed 2018 with 19.2 million subscribers. Meanwhile, Dish lost 1.13 million subscribers and ended in 2018 with 9.9 million. The combined DirecTV and Dish losses of 2.36 million customers in 2018 were up from the company's total loss of 1.55 million in 2017.

Top cable companies Comcast, Charter, Cox, Altice, Mediacom and Cable One lost a Combined 910 000 TV subscribers in 2018, up from a net loss of 660,000 in 2017. The six companies had a total of 47 million TV subscribers by the end of 2018.

DirecTV and Dish were some of their subscriber losses by crushing customers against the electronic versions of their services. DirecTV Now-AT & Ts's online version of DirecTV – got 436,000 subscribers in 2018 to move up to a total of 1.59 million. Dish-owned Sling TV got 205,000 customers and achieved a total of 2.42 million. Although delivered over the Internet, both DirecTV Now and Sling TV are linear pay-TV services similar to traditional cable and satellite TV.

Leichtman tally also includes TV services from major phone companies, namely Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse and Frontier. These three services lost a combined 244,000 TV subscribers in 2018 and dropped to 8.99 million in total, despite the U-verse gaining 47,000.

Broadband subscriptions rise

However, Leichtman's survey of the US broadband market found that cable companies added 2.9 million Internet subscribers in 2018, reaching a total of 64.3 million.

DSL and fiber companies lost 472,000 broadband subscribers in 2018 and fell to a total of 33.9 million.

Cable companies have attempted to limit video loss by imposing data capsules on their broadband services. This makes it more difficult for customers to rely entirely on streaming. But rising cable prices and poor customer service have helped drive cable TV users to streaming services anyway.

Online streaming soars

Leichtman video data is for linear TV providers and it does not include streaming options such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. That part of the market is obviously pushing, though. In the US, Netflix reported 58.5 million paid membership at the end of Q4 2018, up from 52.8 million the previous year. Hulu says it hit 25 million US subscribers in 2018, up 48 percent year-over.

Amazon's Prime Video is packed with lots of other Prime services, so certain Prime Video data is more difficult to get by. Data published by Reuters a year ago showed that Amazon had about 26 million viewers in the United States.


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