Cable companies lost subscribers for the first time last year

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The pay TV industry may not be sweating the cord cutting trend just yet but for the first time in 2013 it had a reason to take notice. According to new data from Leichtman Research Group, pay TV providers posted a net loss of 104,000 subscribers in 2013, the first time the pay TV industry has ever lost subscribers year-over-year. The biggest losers were Time Warner Cable and Comcast, which respectively lost 825,00 and 305,000 pay TV subscribers each. 

The 13 largest multi-channel video providers in the U.S. (ComcastDirecTV and Verizon FiOS, to name three), who make up roughly 94 percent of the market share, lost about 105,000 video subscribers in 2013 — a wide 280,000-subscriber swing from 2012’s addition of 175,000. Perhaps most directly responsible for this first-ever net loss is the increasingly out-of-control hemorrhaging of subscribers on the part of top cable companies: about 1.7 million customers cut their cords in 2013. Despite the loss equaling only 0.1 percent of all subscribers, 2013 nonetheless marks the first year in which pay-TV giants actually came out with an overall year-end loss, according to a recent report by Leichtman Research Group. Cord-cutters the world over are muttering, “You have to start somewhere.”

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