Comcast lost another 543,000 video subscribers in the second quarter, the company announced in its earnings release at the end of July.
Its top competitor, Charter Communications, lost 241,000 subscribers in the second quarter, bringing its total down below $15 million.
Leichtman Research Group, Inc. has not yet released its second-quarter report on cord-cutting, but in the first quarter, it reported that the leading providers lost 2.2 million subscribers in the first three months of the year.
That report also found that every major single provider across cable, satellite, and Internet TV services, lost subscribers in the first quarter, with the exception of YouTube TV, which gained an estimated 100,000 subscribers in the quarter.
Cable is bleeding subscribers and has been for several years, leading Comcast and other cable companies to try to diversify their business offerings. But at the same time, the various things that were expected to possibly replace cable are struggling as well.
Take vMPVDs, also known as live TV services. In the first quarter, the sector lost a total of around 394,000 subscribers, while TV Answer Man reported that the sector has lost over 800,000 subscribers so far this year, counting only Sling TV, Fubo TV, and Hulu + Live TV, who all release quarterly results.
“It would appear that the live streaming category is not the growth category that many said it would be,” Phillip Swann, the author of the TV Answer Man column, wrote this week. “YouTube TV, which now has the NFL Sunday Ticket, may still be adding subscribers, but it seems unlikely that the five major streamers (Sling, Hulu, DIRECTV Stream, YouTube TV and Fubo) actually had a net positive in the first six months of the year.”
Swann added that many customers have turned to such free streaming services as Pluto TV, Tubi, Freevee, and Xumo, which offer massive amounts of content and have become increasingly powerful.
“I have serious doubts that the live streaming industry can continue this way without a few providers falling off the cliff and/or consolidating with another streamer,” Swann wrote. “There’s just not enough money to go around.”
Things aren’t going so great for streaming services, either. And in fact, the ongoing Hollywood strikes have a lot to do with a fight over how the revenue from that economy will be distributed in the future.
Disney announced this week that it lost about 7.7 million subscribers in the second quarter to its streaming services, with the majority of those losses coming from India. The company, at the same time, announced a price hike for Disney+. Netflix, at the same time, has begun gaining subscribers again, after losing them for a couple of quarters, in a sign that its crackdown on password-sharing is beginning to work.
More consolidation is expected, leading to rumors of late that Disney could eventually be sold to Apple, or that other streaming services could end up combining.
Vulture, in an analysis published earlier this summer called “The Binge Purge,” indicated there are recriminations within Hollywood over the last few years’ switch to a streaming-dominated model.
“These companies took what was an extraordinarily successful economic model and they destroyed it in favor of a model that may or may not work — but almost certainly won’t work as well as the old model,” one anonymous figure said in the Vulture piece.
“Let’s take one of the truly successful money-printing inventions in the history of the modern world — which was the carriage system with cable television — and let’s just end it and reinvent ourselves as tech companies, where we pour billions down the drain in pursuit of a return that is completely speculative, still, this many years into it.’”
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.
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