Analysis by Ampere shows pay-TV subscriber totals in Q1 2020 are 0.3% higher than they were in the previous quarter.
The company says this points to a “low-level growth opportunity” despite the threat from online competition faced by the pay-TV sector.
However, Ampere says the numbers vary on a region by region basis and removing the mainland Chinese market leaders—China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom—from the figures reveals a net decline of -0.7%, itself an acceleration from the 0.5% of Q4 2019.
Toby Holleran, Ampere’s Senior Analyst, said: “Of the bellwether pay-TV operators we’re tracking, US groups represent more than half of those firms suffering net subscriber declines. But losses aren’t evenly distributed even here—IPTV and cable firms have shown more resilience as a consequence of their ability to better bundle communications and pay TV together, insulating themselves against the worst effects of cord-cutting.”
Of the bellwether companies which had reported at the time of publication, 42% saw growth in the quarter, with positive net additions of nearly 5 million subscribers. This was partially offset by the remaining 58%, which lost a total of nearly 3 million customers. The net effect was a growth of just under 2 million pay TV subscribers in the quarter.
The biggest losers in the period were the Brazilian TV operators Claro, Sky Brazil and Vivo, and the US satellite TV groups DirecTV and Dish. While US cable and telecoms groups such as Verizon and Comcast also saw significant net declines in subscriber numbers, they have been less badly hit by cord-cutting than their satellite rivals.