The pay TV business continued to expand in the first quarter, but that growth is clearly decelerating.
The top 10 publicly traded operators of cable, satellite and telecommunications-based pay TV services added 494,000 video subscribers in the first quarter, according to data compiled by paidContent from Q1 earnings reports.
That represents just 54 percent of the quarter-to-quarter growth reported by these companies in Q1 2009, when the U.S. was mired in recession.
Earlier in the week, Sanford Bernstein senior analyst Craig Moffett released data indicating the total subscriber gain to be only around 422,000 — in addition to the hard data released by public companies, Moffett also surveyed private multi-channel operators like Cox Communications, as well as numerous smaller cable systems. (Apparently, these smaller companies are reporting continued subscriber losses.)
As we’ve stated in the past, the slowing doesn’t seem to be connected so much to a rampant cord-cutting, but rather a slowing of the telecommunications-based component of the business. For example, telecom operators Verizon (s VZ) and AT&T (s T), which collectively added 583 video subscribers to their respective FiOS and U-Verse services in the first quarter of 2009, only added 380,000 this last Q1 period.