Q2 sees slowest broadband subscriber adds in 15 years

The 14 largest service providers added more than 190,000 broadband customers in the second quarter, the smallest add for a quarter in the past 15 years.

Cable operators – led by Charter and Comcast — added 553,293 new subscribers while telcos saw their market share slip, losing 360,783 subs, with AT&T (down 123,000) being the biggest loser.

“While Telcos lost more broadband subscribers in 2Q 2016 than in any previous quarter, cable companies added over 550,000 subscribers in the traditionally weak second quarter,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group, which prepared the report. “Over the past year, cable companies have added about 3.5 million broadband subscribers, while Telcos have had net losses of about 500,000 broadband subscribers.”

A major factor in the slowdown in broadband adds is simply that broadband is nearly ubiquitous in the U.S., with many more users tiurning to mobile services for their Internet access. 

Charter – with its acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks – became the second-largest broadband provider in the United States with 21.8 million subscribers, just behind Comcast (24.0 million) and ahead of No. 3 AT&T (15.6 million) and No. 4. Verizon (7.0 million). Comcast and Charter now control 49.8% of the nation’s broadband market. Of the 91.9 million fixed broadband subscribers in the U.S., top cable companies having 57.0 million subscribers, and top phone companies having 34.9 million.

Other broadband findings for the quarter include:

  • Overall, broadband additions in 2Q 2016 were less than in any quarter in the past fifteen years (since LRG began tracking the industry). The past seven second quarters account for the seven fewest quarterly broadband net adds over past fifteen years.
  • The top cable companies added about 550,000 subscribers in 2Q 2016 – 139% of the net additions for the top cable companies in 2Q 2015. Cable broadband net adds were the most in any second quarter since 2008.
  • The top phone companies lost about 360,000 broadband subscribers in 2Q 2016 – compared to a loss of about 150,000 in 2Q 2015. Telco providers have had net broadband losses in four of the past five quarters.
  • Over the past year, there were about 3,025,000 total net broadband adds – compared to about 2,970,000 over the prior year.

Stay tuned.

Jim O’Neill is Editor of Videomind and Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn