While cord cutting continues to hit satellite-TV providers the hardest, cable providers such as Comcast and Charter aren’t too far behind. New data from Leichtman Research Group shows that cable companies lost 455,263 subscribers in Q2 2019, while the entire traditional TV industry lost 1.53 million subscribers.
Leichtman says this is the fourth consecutive quarter of record losses for the industry, but the bigger story is that cable TV losses are in line with where satellite providers were a year ago. In Q2 2018, Dish Network and DirecTV combined for a loss of 478,000 subscribers, and last quarter, their losses nearly doubled year-over-year, to 857,000 subscribers. Without big changes, cable TV could be looking at similarly bleak results a year from now.
Not that they care too much. While satellite providers don’t have other clear business models to fall back on, cable companies can profit from cord cutting by selling more internet service at faster speeds. They now seem pretty happy to let live TV streaming services such as YouTube TV and Hulu With Live TV steal video customers at slim-to-negative profit margins, while keeping the more valuable customers—that is, those who are willing to absorb ever-higher prices—for themselves.