In case anyone had any misunderstandings about why there are so many different standalone streaming services coming and going, cable TV and satellite's stronghold on U.S. entertainment values continues to loosen. In fact, a recent study has determined that around 2.9 million people dropped their pay-TV services in 2018, which is nearly double the roughly 1.5 million subscribers that cut the cord in 2017. That's not a very optimistic trend for cable and satellite providers, to say the least.
The study found that 2018 was a banner year for people excising themselves from cable and satellite subscriptions, but that wasn't the only intriguing bit of news to come out of this study. The stats showed that the total subscriber losses are out of balance with the amount of new subscriptions to "skinny bundle" MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor) services such as DirecTV Now, Sling TV and Playstation Vue, to name just a few.
The two companies that reportedly took the biggest cord-cutting hits were satellite giants DirecTV and Dish Network. The two saw a combined loss of 2.36 million customers, which is a rise in losses from 2017. At this point, there are around 89.1 million pay-TV subscribers still out there.
So if these details are all correct, it stands to reason that more people than ever are choosing to fully opt out of traditional, channel-based TV models in favor of choices like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. (Note that Hulu does have its own Live TV option that has reportedly been doing quite well for the company since its launch.) So let's break the numbers down a bit.
The study comes from the research firm Leichtman Research Group (via Deadline), which covers TV providers that reach about 95% of the market. The firm's president Bruce Leichtman shared that pay-TV subscriber losses have reached upwards of 10 million in total, and while some of that has been offset by other forms of online-focused content packages, interest in "skinny bundles" has possibly already moved beyond its peak.
DirecTV and Dish Network were both able to celebrate 2018 subscriber gains that reached into the six-figure range, the total number of subscribers for DirecTV Now and Sling TV only reaches around 4 million. And though others like YouTube TV and Playstation Vue don't report their own totals, Wall Street analyst estimates put the total number of skinny bundle subscribers somewhere between 7 and 8 million.
Those numbers clearly won't turn any tides at the moment, and the growth potential for those bundles is looking to be just as doomed as linear-based TV. The rate of growth for DirecTV and Sling TV was around 90% in 2017, with tons of people making the switch. However, that rate shrunk to around 19% in 2018, which does not bode well for the future.
It's unclear at this point how more niche streaming services such as DC Universe are affecting either pay TV or bundled services as a whole. Quite a few more will be popping up across 2019, though, such as Disney+ and WarnerMedia's digital service, so we might have a better answer for that question by the early months of 2020.
Which kind of services are you readers using these days? Let us know in the poll below, and don't lose track of all the great midseason TV premieres still on the way.
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Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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