The numbers are in. More than 796,000 people ditched their pay-TV service (cable or satellite) in 2016, according to Leichtman Research Group.  That’s about an 80% increase in the number of cord cutters from 2015, when 445,000 subscribers stopped being subscribers.

Other key findings from its study:

  • The top six cable companies lost about 280,000 video subscribers in 2016 — compared to a loss of about 410,000 subscribers in 2015, and 1,200,000 subscribers in 2014
  • Losses for the top cable providers were the fewest in any year since 2006 (the year Telcos introduced video services)
  • Satellite TV services added about 190,000 subscribers in 2016 — compared to a loss of about 450,000 subscribers in 2015
  • DIRECTV added 1,228,000 subscribers in 2016 — compared to 167,000 net adds in 2015
  • The top telephone providers lost 1,555,000 video subscribers in 2016 — compared to a loss of about 120,000 in 2015, and a gain of about 1,065,000 subscribers in 2014
  • U-verse lost 1,359,000 subscribers in 2016 (largely due to AT&T’s focus on higher margin DIRECTV subscribers) — compared to a loss of about 300,000 subscribers in 2015
  • Internet-delivered services (Sling TV and DIRECTV NOW) added about 845,000 subscribers in 2016 — compared to about 535,000 net adds in 2015
  • Traditional pay-TV services (not including Internet-delivered services) lost about 1,640,000 subscribers in 2016 — compared to a loss of about 980,000 in 2015
  • In 4Q 2016, the top pay-TV providers added about 140,000 subscribers — similar to about 145,000 net adds in 4Q 2015
  • Traditional pay-TV services lost about 330,000 subscribers in 4Q 2016 — compared to a small gain of about 1,000 in 4Q 2015


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SOURCE:  Leichtman Research Group


“The pay-TV market has seen significant change in the past two years, with the introduction of Internet-delivered services, and share shifts among traditional providers that are driven as much by providers’ decisions as by changes in consumer demand.  When analyzing the pay-TV market, it is now essential to include Internet-delivered services as part of the industry, just as it was important to include satellite and Telco services when those new forms of delivery were introduced.” – Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, Inc.