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Cable Cord-Cutting: These Companies Are Bleeding TV Subscribers

man sitting on a sofa watching...
man sitting on a sofa watching...

Five of Canada’s largest cable and satellite TV providers saw a drop in subscribers in the second quarter of 2013, Ottawa-based Boon Dog Professional Services says.

The research backs growing evidence that Canadians, frustrated at high telecom bills, are ditching their TV subscriptions in ever greater numbers, opting instead for online streaming and over-the-air options.

Canada’s publicly-traded TV providers, who account for 90 per cent of the market, lost a total of 19,624 subscribers in the second quarter of 2012. That’s more than triple the rate of loss seen in the first quarter, Boon Dog reported.

Cogeco, Rogers, Shaw, Shaw Direct and Videotron all saw their subscriber numbers fall, Boon Dog reported.

In the same period of last year, TV providers added some 3,600 subscribers “so there was a swing from growth to decline year-over-year,” Boon Dog co-founder Mario Mota said in an email.

Admittedly, these numbers are relatively small: Boon Dog says there are about 11.8 million TV subscriptions in Canada. But the consultancy says there now have been three consecutive quarters of declining subscriptions — mirroring almost exactly a trend seen in the U.S.

Boon Dog’s data back up other research over the past year that has shown cord-cutting becoming a growing phenomenon in Canada. Convergence Consulting estimated earlier this year that one in 50 Canadians has ditched their cable TV subscription, and audience measurement firm ComScore recently reported that 16 per cent of Canadians no longer watch any conventional TV, getting their video online.

And so far the trend hasn’t done much to hurt the TV providers’ bottom lines. The CRTC reported this spring that cable and satellite TV revenue jumped 4.2 per cent in the year ending in August, 2012.

However, those numbers covered a period before the cord-cutting phenomenon started turning subscriber numbers negative. And some of the revenue increase can be accounted for through higher cable TV prices.

Not all TV providers are seeing declining numbers: Telus, for instance, saw its TV subscriber base grow by 31,000 subscribers. But the company operates TV services in western Canada, which has seen higher population growth rates than the rest of the country.

The big loser was Rogers; check the gallery below for how each company did:

Which TV Providers Are Bleeding Customers

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed the quote from Mario Mota, co-founder of Boon Dog Professional Services. The Huffington Post regrets the error.

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