Cable, satellite see quarterly loss of TV subscribers

More than 195,000 customers were lost in the second quarter, according to an analysis by the Associated Press, which cited the weak economy and streaming services as likely reasons for the cord cutting.

That loud snipping sound is a greater number of Americans cutting the cord and ditching their cable and satellite TV subscriptions. That's the verdict today in an analysis done by the Associated Press of the pay TV companies' quarterly earnings reports.

The AP tallied lost subscribers from eight of the top nine providers, including Comcast and Time Warner cable, Verizon, AT&T, DirecTV, and Dish Network. Cox Communications was not included because it is a private company and does not disclose subscriber numbers, but AP said it has captured 70 percent of households in its survey and found that the group of eight providers lost over 195,000 subscribers altogether.

That amounts to the first quarterly loss for the group, and represents 0.2 percent of their 83.2 million video subscribers. Other analysts cited by AP estimate the total number of lost subscribers higher, at as much as 450,000 when all providers are included.

While the second quarter is always a weak one for pay TV, with students canceling subscriptions for the summer, the tough economy and proliferation of streaming video and other online services are also likely to blame for the big drop, according to the AP. Analysts also believe that the tide of first-time cable subscribers has finally abated.

A similar analysis yesterday by GigaOm came up with almost the same numbers, but notes that lost subscriptions are coming mainly from the cable and satellite providers, while AT&T and Verizon actually added almost 400,000 customers, keeping the total industry loss numbers from being much higher.

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