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Legacy Multichannel Subscriptions Remain Under Pressure, S&P Report Finds

Monterey, CA, May. 17 2018 — Virtual services like Sling TV and Direct TV Now are softening overall erosion of multichannel subs, according to the Q1 2018 U.S. Multichannel Subscriber Report 

Traditional multichannel video losses in the first quarter (period ended March 31, 2018) showed modest improvement over the same period in 2017, but the magnitude of the decline remains elevated, according to the Q1 2018 U.S. Multichannel Subscriber Report by Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Combined cable, direct broadcast satellite (DBS), and telecom multichannel subscriptions fell 0.8% sequentially, to 93.2 million, including 90.3 million residential customers. However, noteworthy gains for virtual platforms DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV put the evolution of the sector in perspective; the quarterly subscription losses are cut in half when including DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV and raise the overall residential figure to 94.1 million.

Additional takeaways from Kagan’s first-quarter U.S. Multichannel Subscriber report:

• The residential multichannel penetration rate stood at 76.1% as of March 31 when including the VSPs owned by AT&T and DISH Network (DIRECTV NOW and Sling TV).
• Cable operators logged their largest first-quarter video subscriber decline on record, with the top two MSOs, Comcast and Charter, accounting for 59% of the drop.
• Telco video appears to be regaining its footing as AT&T's U-verse stabilizes. The platform’s video customer losses fell below 100,000 for the first time since the third quarter of 2015.
• DBS losses ramped back up in the first quarter, bringing the sector’s total down to 31.1 million.

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