Worldwide Pay TV Subscribers in Decline for First Time Ever

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In a first, the number of global pay TV subscribers fell, according to the Informitv Multiscreen Index. The drop is small—just a 0.11 million decline in the third quarter of 2018—but it's the first indication that the global pay TV market is reversing. 

The Informitv Multiscreen Index surveys the 100 leading pay TV services. In Q3, 43 of them gained subscribers. The Asia Pacific region picked up 1.22 million customers, with Dish TV growing by 200,000 in India. 

Between cable and satellite, satellite lost more subscribers, declining by 0.90 million compared to 0.22 million for cable. North America and South America continued dropping customers as in previous quarters, while Europe, the Middle East, and Africa showed declines for the first time, dropping 0.31 million subscribers.

In the U.S., the leading 10 pay TV companies lost 877,000 subscribers in Q3, but still have 82.72 million. Comcast is the region's biggest player with 20.98 million subscribers.

The biggest loss in Q3 was for Canal+ International, which dropped 608,000 subscribers once the World Cup finished. With 6.93 million subscribers, it's still up 726,000 year-over-year.

Telcos picked up 0.92 million subscribers, and the online services Sling TV and DirecTV Now gained 26,000 and 63,000 subscribers.

“Our Multiscreen Index shows a slight fall in television subscriber numbers worldwide for the first time, following average quarterly growth of 1 percent over recent years,” said editor Dr. William Cooper. “The third calendar quarter tends to be weaker. The key question is whether the next quarter will show a recovery or continuing decline."

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