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Multichannel Sub Loss Tops 1 Million in 2015, Residential Penetrations Decline

According to the most recent report from SNL Kagan, the downward trajectory of the U.S. multichannel segment continued in the fourth quarter of 2015 despite a resurgence in cable subscriptions and solid DBS results, suggesting a share shift rather than a retreat from cord cutting.

SNL Kagan estimates the combined cable, telco and DBS sectors lost more than 1 million video customers in 2015. The 12-month decline was more than 4x the 2014 decline, and marked the third consecutive overall annual drop for the industry.

That said, the waning months of 2015 carried signs of stabilization after steep losses for the better part of the year. The industry dipped by only 15,000 total customers in the period ended Dec. 31, 2015, essentially matching the losses of fourth quarter 2014. 

Additional highlights from SNL Kagan’s 4th-quarter U.S. Multichannel Subscriber report:

  • SNL Kagan has introduced a view of residential-only subscribers to our quarterly reports to better isolate changing patterns of consumption. Year-end 2015 residential subscriptions dropped to 96.7 million. The residential decline was slightly more exaggerated than the total market movement, accounting for a 57,000 subscriber dip in the fourth quarter and reaching 1.1 million for the year.    
  • MSOs in 2015 lost 599,000 total video customers. This was cable’s best performance since 2007 when the industry lost 458,000 customers. It was also the platform’s first sub-1 million drop in 7 years.
  • DBS shed 478,000 subscribers during the year to end at 33.1 million. This compares to a loss of 39,000 in 2014.
  • The telco segment ended 2015 essentially flat, with downward pressure from AT&T's shift away from U-verse to the lower cost video platform of DIRECTV weighing on the overall platform’s performance.