Cord cutting has become increasingly popular over the last few years and now the total amount of U.S. subscribers to a Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributor (vMVPD) has increased to around 14.2 million as of the third quarter, according to MoffettNathanson’s Cord Cutting Monitor report.
During Q3, the quarterly report estimated that 980,000 subscribers signed up for a vMVPD across the period. Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV were the front runners during the third quarter, with MoffettNathanson estimating the services added 300,000, and 225,000, respectively. However, when compared to the third quarter of 2020, both vMPVDs saw fewer subscribers year over year. YouTube TV gained approximately 400,000 subscribers in Q3 of 2020, and Hulu + Live TV added an estimated 700,000 during that time.
The Cord Cutting Monitor report comes right off the heels of Disney’s Q4 2021 earnings report. We recently reported that Hulu + Live TV reached 4 million subscribers, and Hulu SVOD has 39.7 million subscribers, which is a combined 20% increase, year over year.
With many sporting events taking place during the third quarter, the sports-oriented vMVPD fuboTV saw massive gains during Q3. The streamer recently surpassed one million subscribers, and during Q3 there were nearly 262,884 net subscribers who joined the service. The net subscriber gain during Q3 of 2021 was more than the total amount of new subscribers in all of 2020.
According to the MoffetNathanson report, popular vMVPDs saw a decrease in subscriber growth compared to Q3 of 2020 when YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, Philo, DIRECTV STREAM (formerly AT&T TV Now) added approximately 1.7 million.
“No doubt part of the problem for vMVPDs is that their pricing is increasingly converging on, well, reality,” wrote Craig Moffett in a research note.
The price increases are happening throughout the industry. Recently, Hulu + Live TV added Disney+ and ESPN+ to the service, however, the monthly price increased to $69.99/mo. The Disney-owned vMVPD may have seen a subscriber boost after the media conglomerate’s channels went dark on YouTube TV before both companies reached an agreement. MoffettNathanson speculates that YouTube TV may see a price increase soon from the fallout of the agreement.
“Recall that the vMVPD category is still only around six years old. Six years ago, everyone burst out of the gate with eye-poppingly low prices. That helped them get out of the gate quickly, but it undermined their longer-term prospects in two ways,” wrote Moffett. “First, they naturally attracted price sensitive customers, for whom regular price increase would be particularly irksome. Second, they painted themselves into the unenviable corner of having to raise prices even faster than their traditional distributor piers in order to accommodate the inevitable rate increases they would face from their content partners.”
Hulu + Live TV isn’t the only vMVPD to see a price hike in recent years. In 2020, fuboTV increased its price to $64.99/mo., after dropping the Turner Networks. During that same year, YouTube TV increased its monthly cost to $64.99 after adding the Viacom networks. Sling TV raised its monthly rates by $5 in 2021. Like Sling TV, Philo increased its monthly subscription by $5 in 2021.
With the cost of content and fees going up, cord cutters could see more price increases throughout 2022 as well.