Verizon’s pay TV subs sink to lowest point in a decade

Verizon posted another quarter of Fios Video subscriber losses and now the company’s pay TV customer base has shrunk to its lowest point in 10 years.

The company reported 82,000 Fios Video net losses during the first quarter of 2021, dropping its total to approximately 3.77 million. As Variety pointed out, that’s the smallest Verizon’s Fios Video subscriber base has been since the first quarter of 2011, when it sat at approximately 3.66 million.

At that point 10 years ago, Verizon was growing its Fios Video subscribers at a 25.7% annual rate. Flash forward to the first quarter of 2021 and the company’s pay TV base is now shrinking at a 7.3% annual rate.

Verizon once again chalked up the quarterly subscriber losses to the ongoing shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings. However, thanks to what the company called its highest Fios Internet net additions since 2015, the continued erosion of its traditional linear video business seems to be less of a concern.

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“The company's broadband subscriber growth, combined with an upward shift in speed tiers, more than offset pressure from secular video trends and is expected to continue to drive solid revenue performance,” Verizon said in a news release.

Verizon is still ahead of competitors like Altice USA, which ended the fourth quarter with 2.96 million pay TV subscribers – and has yet to announce its first-quarter results. But the company has been eclipsed by virtual MVPDs like Hulu + Live TV, which ended 2020 with 4 million total subscribers.

While Fios Video continues to decline, Verizon’s media business has now put together a small streak of double-digit revenue growth quarters. Verizon Media revenues were $1.9 billion in the first quarter, down sequentially from $2.3 billion in the four quarter but up approximately 10.4% year over year.

Verizon attributed the growth to advertising trending up 26% year over year and said revenue from its owned and operated platforms grew 13% year over year. The company’s demand-side platform revenue grew 45% year over year.