Cord-Cutting Runs Amok: Cable, Satellite Providers Hit by Record Subscriber Losses in 2nd Quarter

More than 1 million customers cut the cord during the second quarter

Americans are continuing to flee from their cable and satellite services in droves, with traditional pay TV providers heading towards a record number of quarterly subscriber losses, according to a new report from analysts at MoffettNathanson on Monday.

So far this earnings season, Comcast, AT&T (DirecTV’s parent company) and Charter have combined to lose 1.25 million Q2 subscribers —  or about 1.1 million more customers than during the same period last year. This “bloodshed,” as analyst Michael Nathanson put it, puts pay TV subscriber losses on track for a record 5.5% drop during Q2; and even factoring in virtual MVPD options like Sling TV and DirecTV Now, pay TV is expected to see subscribers decline 2.7% during Q2, which would also set a new mark for quarterly futility.

“With Comcast’s, AT&T’s and Charter’s [second quarter] earnings in the books, the early read on traditional cord-cutting is freaking ugly,” Nathanson wrote in the report. “The growth of cord-cutting and the continued decline in viewership are weighing on advertising as well, as we forecast flat growth for the quarter.”


The report isn’t optimistic on pay TV rebounding, with Nathanson expecting subscriber losses to “accelerate” during the second half of 2019.

Cable and satellite providers have been losing viewers to cheaper streaming alternatives in recent years, but the second quarter losses actually come after Netflix, with more than 150 million global customers now, just reported underwhelming Q2 subscriber growth.

To offset its severe subscriber losses, several old school TV providers are hustling to attract more streaming customers. Last week, Steve Burke, CEO of Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, said the company expects to launch its streaming service next April.

Dish Network — which lost about 250,000 subscribers during Q1 2019 — is set to report its second quarter results on Monday afternoon.