With many spending more time at home during the coronavirus pandemic, both streaming services and pay TV services have reported an increase in viewing times. For pay TV operators, the increase could just be a temporary slow down of subscriber losses.
With unemployment rates rising and a potential recession on the way, families will be looking at ways to cut costs, and cable TV is likely to be at the top of the list. Hollywood Reporter shared statements from analysts showing just how much that could impact cable providers.
“There could initially be some benefit from the fact that people have been stuck at home, and that they are glued to cable news, but that won’t last,” MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett told THR. “The financial pressures of the COVID recession will inevitably push consumers to economize, so cord-cutting will accelerate. That will only be exacerbated by the lack of sports programming. Sports are the glue that holds the bundle together. Without sports, the value proposition for pay TV starts to fall apart.”
At the beginning of the month, Bernstein analyst Peter Supino noted that the lack of sports would be a leading factor in pay TV losses.
“If we assume 9 million job losses in the second quarter, which seems reasonable given both market commentary and the recent jobless claims print, 6 million homes will be affected by job losses (1.5 adults per home),” the analyst explained, adding that his estimates also assume that half of these people subscribe to linear TV and half of those cut TV.
Supino estimates that Comcast will lose 1.67 million subscribers in 2020, Charter will lose an estimated 1.08 million, Altice will lose an estimated 230,000, AT&T will lose an estimated 2.2 million, and Dish will lose an estimated 695,000.
The losses may not be noticed immediately, but will likely be reported throughout the year. “A lot of that is going to depend on individual households,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst at Leichtman Research Group told THR. “I don’t think that hits in the first month, but over time.”
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