Cable companies lost subscribers for the first time last year

The pay TV industry may not be sweating the cord cutting trend just yet but for the first time in 2013 it had a reason to take notice. According to new data from Leichtman Research Group, pay TV providers posted a net loss of 104,000 subscribers in 2013, the first time the pay TV industry has ever lost subscribers year-over-year. The biggest losers were Time Warner Cable and Comcast, which respectively lost 825,00 and 305,000 pay TV subscribers each. 

The 13 largest multi-channel video providers in the U.S. (ComcastDirecTV and Verizon FiOS, to name three), who make up roughly 94 percent of the market share, lost about 105,000 video subscribers in 2013 — a wide 280,000-subscriber swing from 2012’s addition of 175,000. Perhaps most directly responsible for this first-ever net loss is the increasingly out-of-control hemorrhaging of subscribers on the part of top cable companies: about 1.7 million customers cut their cords in 2013. Despite the loss equaling only 0.1 percent of all subscribers, 2013 nonetheless marks the first year in which pay-TV giants actually came out with an overall year-end loss, according to a recent report by Leichtman Research Group. Cord-cutters the world over are muttering, “You have to start somewhere.”

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