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Multichannel TV posts Q2 subscriber loss

Analyst cites economic factors as driver of weak performance

NEW YORK -- The U.S. multichannel TV industry recorded its worst performance on record in the second quarter and posted its first-ever quarterly subscriber loss, according to SNL Kagan.

The research firm cited economic factors, particularly high unemployment and the weak housing market, as the key drivers of the weak performance.

Overall, cable, satellite TV and telecom providers lost 216,000 video customers in the second quarter, compared to a 378,000 gain in the same period a year earlier. The SNL Kagan data shows that video subscriber counts for cable, satellite TV and telecom companies fell to 100.1 million in the quarter driven by cable declines.

Cable suffered its worst quarterly video loss to-date, losing 711,000 subscribers, according to SNL Kagan. Six of the eight biggest MSOs reported their worst quarterly video losses.

Satellite TV firms added 81,000 customers collectively, and telecoms expanded their still relatively new user bases by 414,000 subscribers.

SNL Kagan doesn't believe that increased availability of broadband Internet content has driven the bad quarter for TV providers.

"Although it is tempting to point to over-the-top video as a potential culprit, we believe economic factors such as low housing formation and a high unemployment rate contributed to subscriber declines in the second quarter," said analyst Mariam Rondeli. "We are also seeing churn resulting from the broadcast digital transition, which boosted video uptake early last year, as many have abandoned their paid subscriptions once initial promotional contracts expired."