YouTube TV Sees Massive Subscriber Loss for Live TV Streaming


According to a new study from analyst Craig Moffett, YouTube TV recorded its first-ever quarterly subscriber loss, indicating increased churn in the live TV streaming business. 


“Stop us if you’ve heard this one before,” self-aware equity analyst Craig Moffett told investors Tuesday in his firm’s quarterly Cord Cutting Monitor report. “The first quarter was the worst ever for pay TV subscriber losses.”


Erosion to the U.S. subscription linear video ecosystem accelerated to an all-time high of 12.3% from January to March. But that isn’t the only reason the first quarter stood out as being particularly bad for this declining business.  “Even YouTube TV, the only real ‘winner’ thus far in linear video’s dismantling, posted its first-ever quarterly subscriber loss by our estimate,” the MoffettNathanson equity analyst wrote, underscoring the growing seasonality of the increasingly sports-driven linear vMVPDs.”


While Google-owned YouTube does not publish subscriber data, Craig Moffett estimated that YouTube TV lost 150,000 customers in the first quarter of 2024, writing in the most recent edition of his “Cord Cutting Monitor.”


via Cord


The industry term “vMVPDs” refers to subscription streaming services that enable consumers to view live TV without a cable connection. Other options include Hulu with Live TV, Sling, FuboTV, and Philo TV. Live sports have been one of the most appealing features of such services to sports enthusiasts who have cut the cord. However, almost all of these services are rather pricey. YouTube TV costs $72.99 per month, and Hulu with live TV can cost up to $89.99 per month.


“Serial churners” have now become a serious worry for streamers, but the phenomenon was previously limited to “SVODs” — or streaming entertainment services such as Netflix. Higher churn appears to be afflicting all parts of the streaming business, including live TV, as consumers burdened by inflation substantially reduce non-essential expenditure. The trend is sure to impact Hollywood studios, who rely on streaming to offset losses caused by cord cutting.


Live sports programming, in particular, has always been extremely valuable for the studios. In his report, Moffett also forecasted that live TV streaming services will account for half of the pay TV industry by 2028. The increased churn and seasonality creates more volatility for studios, who charge advertisers based on viewer figures.





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Meghan Murphy

Geeking out through mental illness. Mom. Wife. Freelance writer. Pear shaped. I espouse very strong opinions on comic books and popular culture. If your wisdom is "conventional," it's probably wrong.