The cord-cutting trend, which accelerated in 2020, has continued this year, with more than a million pay-TV subscriptions being lost in the second quarter of this year. That’s according to a new report from MoffettNathanson, which released its Cord Cutting Monitor report, as cited by Light Reading.
The traditional cable, satellite and telecom companies lost 1.35 million subscribers in the quarter, which was better than the 1.57 million lost in the same quarter the year before, which was the first full three months in which coronavirus stay-at-home orders were in effect. In the second quarter of 2021, cable companies lost 644,000 subscribers, satellite companies lost 546,000 and telecom companies lost 161,000.
The vMVPD sector, meanwhile, gained subscribers, adding 227,000, although it gained fewer than the sector had the same period in 2020.
“Once again, the vMVPD industry, now burdened by higher retail pricing, is only converting about 1/3rd of the traditional subscribers who cut the cord over the past year,” MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett said in the report of that sector.
Moffett also noted that the losses for traditional pay TV, while continuing, are not as catastrophic as in the past.
“As measured by the absolute number of subscribers, declines for traditional Pay TV subscribers have begun to moderate,” Moffett said in the report. “In percentage terms, however, when measured against a steadily shrinking denominator, percentage declines are actually remarkably steady . . . With a smaller denominator, the percentage rate of decline at 7.7% YoY was little changed from last quarter (-7.9%) and from a year ago (-7.8%).”
The analysts also put the total number of households that have cut cable overall at about 38.5 million, noting that only about 12 million of those have signed up for vMVPDs. The rest, presumably, are making due with non-vMVPD streaming services only.
And the report also noted that the “glue” that has traditionally held many subscriptions together, live sports, may be beginning to slip, although that’s not a given.
"As we enter fall with the return of college and pro football, and with fans flocking to televised games, stadiums and mobile betting apps, sports viewership trends could improve," Moffatt said.
Another report, from Leitchman Research Group, came up with a similar number, claiming that 1.2 million subscriptions were lost in the second quarter.
“Pay-TV net losses of 1,230,000 in 2Q 2021 were about 275,000 fewer than in 2Q 2020 on a pro forma basis,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc., said in the release of the numbers last month. “Over the past year, top Pay-TV providers had a net loss of about 4,520,000 subscribers, compared to a loss of about 5,460,000 over the prior year.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for the National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, 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.