BOSTON — The number of households subscribing to a pay-TV service shrank slightly in 2014, and cord cutting threatens to take the subscriber base down farther, Strategy Analytics said.
“Cord cutting remains a threat, and there are new options for consumers that have deployed during the first quarter of 2015, specifically the Sling TV service from Dish Network,” said Jason Blackwell, service provider strategies director. “We also expect to see more standalone services from HBO, Showtime and others, so 2015 will be challenging for the traditional pay-TV vendors.”
In 2014, growth in pay-TV subscribers occurred in both the first and fourth quarters; the fourth quarter finishing strong with the addition of 101,000 subscribers, though the full year posted a decline of 4,000 subscribers. “The middle of the year was a bit rough, with subscriber losses in the second and third quarters,” he said.
In the U.S., the fourth-quarter gain brought the total tracked subscriber base to 96.1 million, of which almost 95 million were digital subscribers.
The company tracks the 26 leading digital pay- TV operators in the U.S. and Canada, representing 96 percent of the North American digital market and 93 percent of the total North American market.
The company also found that in 2014:
• The U.S. satellite-TV market grew by only 20,000 subscribers, with DirecTV offsetting Dish Network losses.
• IPTV operators in the US added 1.16 million new subscribers in 2014, with Verizon adding 387,000 new subs and AT&T adding 478,000.
• Cable continued to suffer subscriber losses, losing a total of 1.18 million during the year and losing 195,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter.