Outlook for Traditional TV Goes From Bad to Worse

More than 1 million consumers canceled their cable-TV or satellite subscriptions in the past quarter, one of the largest seasonal drops ever, stepping up pressure on pay-TV providers to generate revenue in other ways.

Satellite operators—AT&T’s DirecTV and Dish Network Corp. DISH -4.11% —have lost the most customers overall. Rich Greenfield, media and tech analyst at brokerage firm BTIG, said satellite firms were more vulnerable to subscriber losses than companies that sell cable TV and broadband access because demand for internet connections remains healthy. Many residents who sign up for cable broadband get TV as part of the bundle.

The pay-TV decline comes as many U.S. households are turning to the internet for entertainment and canceling their traditional subscriptions, a phenomenon called cord-cutting. A growing share of Americans, known as cord-nevers, are forgoing pay-TV altogether.

Research firm MoffettNathanson LLC estimates more than 10 million U.S. homes have either cut the cord or skipped over pay-TV distributors since 2010, when the share of households with traditional video service peaked.

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