Pay-TV Subscriptions Fall for First Time as Streaming Gains

Cable Loses Nearly Two Million Subscribers

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Curved TV's at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.
Curved TV's at this year's Consumer Electronics Show.

The number of Americans who pay for TV through cable, satellite or fiber services fell by more than a quarter of a million in 2013, the first full-year decline in TV customers, research firm SNL Kagan said.

The tally of video subscribers across the entire pay-TV industry, which includes Comcast, DirecTV and Verizon Communications, dropped by 251,000 last year to about 100 million in the U.S., the firm said in a statement today.

Fewer people are buying traditional TV subscriptions as online-streaming services from companies like Netflix and Amazon offer cheaper alternatives. Though satellite and telecommunications providers continued to gain users, they didn't add enough to make up for the losses of cable companies.

"While seasonally driven quarterly declines have become routine for industry watchers, the annual dip illustrates longer-term downward pressure even as economic conditions gradually improve," SNL Kagan said.

Cable lost almost 2 million video subscribers last year, while satellite services added 170,000 customers and phone-company offerings using fiber optics, such as Verizon's Fios and AT&T Inc.'s U-verse, netted 1.6 million.

~ Bloomberg News ~

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