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Cord-cutting slows down, but not for satellite TV

Cord-cutting slows down, but not for satellite TV
[Photo: Paweł Czerwiński/Unsplash]

Pity the poor satellite-TV providers. Maybe the idea of getting your TV from a giant dish seemed great at one time, but in the age of cord-cutting it’s looking more and more like a relic from an earlier era.

According to the latest cord-cutting report from analyst firm MoffettNathanson, satellite-TV providers Dish Network and DirecTV continued to shed traditional subscribers over the past three months, even as cord-cutting has leveled off in the broader pay-TV industry. Combined, the two companies lost 483,000 satellite-TV subscribers in the second quarter, the sector’s worst quarter yet.

At the same time, the major cable companies lost a combined 301,000 subscribers in the quarter, which is pretty bad but not as bad as the 315,000 they’d lost in the prior quarter. The slower rate of decline is good news for the media business, but analyst Craig Moffett warns about reading too much into a single quarter. “Certainly, no one would suggest that the cord-cutting phenomenon is behind us,” he wrote.

Dish and DirecTV both offer their own over-the-top streaming services–Sling TV and DirecTV Now, respectively–but there are signs that the growth of those services will not be enough to offset declines in traditional subscribers, at least in the long run. As we reported last week, DirecTV Now is still growing at a healthy rate, but Sling TV is already losing steam. MoffettNathanson estimated that the service gained only 41,000 new subscribers in the second quarter, compared to DirecTV Now’s 325,000.

Here’s how the rest of the Q2 numbers shook out for the major providers:

  • Altice: lost 23,000 subscribers
  • Charter: lost 57,000 subscribers
  • Comcast: lost 140,000 subscribers
  • Dish Network: lost 197,000 subscribers
  • DirecTV: lost 286,000 subscribers
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