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Cord-Cutting Doubled in 2018, New Study Says

Nearly 3 million people dropped their pay-TV providers last year, with DirecTV and Dish Network hit the hardest

Did you cut the cord last year? If so, you clearly weren’t the only one.

Almost 3 million people stopped paying for the top pay-TV providers in 2018, nearly doubling the 1.5 million viewers that dropped their service in 2017, according to a study released on Wednesday from Leichtman Research Group. That probably put a smile on the face of Netflix chief Reed Hastings. The company’s research covers 95 percent of the U.S. market.

Major satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network suffered the biggest losses, dropping more than 1.1 million customers each in 2018, according to LRG. Meanwhile, Comcast, the largest cable provider in the U.S., lost 371,000 customers last year.

The decline of traditional TV providers comes at the same time Netflix and other paid streaming services are racking up subscribers. Netflix closed 2018 with a record 8.8 million new subscribers added at home and abroad during the fourth quarter, finishing the year with 60 million U.S. subscribers.

“The pay-TV market saw net losses increase in 2018. Overall, the top pay-TV providers lost 3.1 percent of subscribers in 2018 compared to a loss of 1.6% in 2017,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, said in a statement.

Leichtman added that since the pay-TV industry’s peak in early 2012, the top providers have lost about 6 million net customers — with 10 million traditional TV customers offset by about 4 million customers adding internet-delivered streaming services from the major providers.

Netflix isn’t the only streaming service gaining ground as mainstay cable and satellite companies are faltering. Just last week, Hulu’s $45 per month live TV streaming option passed the 2 million subscriber mark; overall, Hulu has more than 25 million subscribers across its array of subscriber tiers. YouTube TV, the Google-owned video giant’s live TV service, has also passed the 1 million subscriber threshold.