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“Twin vicious cycles” of cord-cutting see US pay-TV fall further

This percentage fall was the same as that observed in the second quarter of 2021 and slightly more than that recorded a year earlier, 8.5%. The analyst calculated that total traditional subscribers fell by 1.618 million over the course of the third quarter.

What made the falls more worrying to the analyst was that fewer subscribers churning out were recaptured by virtual MVPDs even though the third quarter is generally regarded as a strong one for such firms. Even though vMVPD subscriber gains were up significantly from Q2 2021, these additions were significantly smaller than a year ago. On a trailing twelve-month basis, less than a third of traditional video subscribers were recaptured by vMVPDs, a number meaningfully lower than a year ago (36%).

The net result was that total pay-TV distribution in the US was down 5.2% year-on-year in the third quarter, a worsening relative to the decline rates of the past year.

The key driver for the fall was twin vicious cycle effect causing the general defection of entertainment viewers from traditional pay-TV to SVOD. While this was not only causing providers to raise charges for bundles including sports, it was also leaving traditional networks impoverished for quality programming.

Looking at the performance of individual platforms, MoffettNathanson found cable losses continuing to worsen while satellite losses moderated to a degree. Overall, satellite was losing pay-TV subscribers at roughly twice the rate of cable which itself recorded its fastest decline in Q3 2021, 6.2%. Satellite’s 12% fall was actually a two-percentage point improvement of the rate of decline in Q3 2020.

Even though vMVPDs did show growth, increases were markedly down on the situation a year previously. In Q3 2021 vMVPDs added just under 1 million subscribers a sharp decrease compared with the estimated 1.7 million additions in the corresponding quarter a year ago. MoffettNathanson calculated that in total vMVPDs now have approximately 14.2 million subscribers. Rapid TV News

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