With Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Originals pulling in more and more subscribers every year — not to mention impending streaming services from Apple and Disney about to make a dent in an already highly competitive field — it should come as little surprise that cable TV has been taking a hit. Just how big of a hit however, was unclear until now.
According to the latest study by Leichtman Research Group, a research firm that specializes in research and analysis of the broadband, media and entertainment industries, 2.9 million pay-TV subscribers cut the cord in 2018. That’s nearly double the 1.5 million subscriber losses in 2017. And while so-called “skinny bundles” such as Sling TV and DirecTV Now have become popular alternatives to traditional TV packages, their rate of growth is not nearly enough to offset the losses.
Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, said net pay-TV losses since the peak year of 2012 have totaled about 10 million, which has been offset by growth in internet-delivered, “skinny” TV packages. Even so, the total subscriber number is still significantly in the red.
Prominent skinny bundles DirecTV Now and Sling TV posted six-figure subscriber gains for the year and now have more than 4 million subscribers between them, but their rate of growth slowed to 19% in 2018 from 90% in 2017. Rival skinny bundles YouTube TV, Hulu with Live TV and PlayStation Vue do not publicly report subscriber numbers in the way that conventional distributors do, so Leichtman does not include them in its tally.
Satellite distributors DirecTV and Dish Network have reportedly taken the biggest hit with a collective 2.36 million fewer subscribers in 2018, compared to 1.55 million in 2017.
Meanwhile, in a not entirely unrelated matter, Variety reported this week on the increasingly brutal Emmy competition, which will apparently hit a fever pitch in 2019.
In 1992, there were 29 dramas and 50 comedies submitted for eligibility. By 2012, the year before the arrival of the streaming army, 87 shows were submitted for outstanding drama series consideration, while 64 shows were entered for best comedy. In 2018, that number had soared to 159 drama contenders and 117 comedy entrants.
In other words, just when you thought it was safe for a re-watch of The Sopranos…