As the trend of cord-cutting has continued, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, the leading cable and satellite providers in the United States gained a total of 1.245 million broadband Internet subscribers in the second quarter of 2020. It was the largest gain since 2012.
That’s according to data released Thursday by Leichtman Research Group, Inc. (LRG), the same firm that said earlier in the week that the leading pay TV operators lost another 1.57 million subscribers in the same quarter.
Those companies, by contrast, had gained just 375,000 broadband Internet subscribers in the same quarter of 2019. The companies surveyed comprised about 86 percent of the market, and the numbers were gleaned from their public earnings reports.
As of now, the top companies have 103.3 million Internet subscribers, of which 70.6 million are from cable companies and 32.7 million are from phone companies. Every major cable company gained Internet subscribers, while the four largest phone companies all lost them.
The pay TV company that added the most broadband subscribers was Charter Communications, with 850,000; Charter was the only major cable company that didn’t lose subscribers in the quarter, although the company said this had to do with customers responding to a free offer earlier in the year and remained as paying customers. Comcast gained the second-most, with 323,000.
On the phone company side, AT&T lost 114,000 Internet subscribers, while Verizon dropped 23,000, CenturyLink lost 29,000 and Frontier lost 41,000. The other phone companies listed, Windstream, Consolidated, TDS and Cincinnati Bell, all posted gains. Overall, the top telephone companies lost 155,822 Internet subscribers.
“With the continued impact of the coronavirus pandemic, there were more quarterly net broadband additions in 2Q 2020 than in any quarter in eight years,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc., said as part of the announcement. “In the first half of 2020, there were over 2.4 million net broadband additions. This is the most net adds in the first half of any year since 2008.”
While cord-cutting continues, it appears that the change is decelerating, with the U.S. companies losing around 2 million paying subscribers in the first quarter, a number that has been reduced to 1.57 million in the second quarter.
However, the vMVPD (Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributor) category, considered the wave of the future in home entertainment as recently as a year ago, lost a total of 24,000 subscribers in the second quarter, although one such service, the Disney-owned Hulu+ Live TV, gained a net of 100,000 subscribers for the second consecutive quarter, and Google did not release statistics for YouTube TV.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, 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.