Canada's biggest TV providers lost almost a quarter fewer customers in the first half of 2017 as they did the same time last year, a new report shows.
Ottawa-based Boon Dog Professional Services Inc. has tabulated numbers made public by Canada's seven biggest TV providers — Rogers, BCE, Shaw, Videotron, Cogeco, Telus, and MTS — and found that they collectively lost a little over 100,000 traditional TV subscription customers between January and June.
By the mid-point of 2016, those companies had lost about 129,000 such customers, which means the pace of cord-cutting is slowing down in 2017 for the first time in years.
- Netflix is still the king of streaming — but can it last?
- Cutting the TV cord? Call the anti-cable guy
"The numbers are still declining, it's just that the declines are slowing," Boon Dog president Mario Mota said in an interview with CBC News.
While no doubt an encouraging trend for the major cable companies that have seen their market share eaten away by streaming and other options, they are by no means out of the woods.
He notes that Canada's economy has added roughly 200,000 new households in the past year, which means the major TV providers should be adding customers just to maintain their existing foothold.
Losing 200,000 customers — as the industry did last year — when the potential customer base has grown by about 200,000 people, puts the cord-cutting numbers reported Monday in a better context.
"TV subscription penetration is declining at a greater level than simply the cord-cutting numbers suggest," Mota said.
Telus and Shaw gained customers
While the trend may be improving, not all companies lost or gained customers at the same rate, Mota noted. About half the cord cutting came from Rogers, which lost 49,000 television customers in the first half of the year. Next came Videotron at 34,200, and then BCE which lost 20,893 customers.
Telus added 11,000 customers during the period, while Shaw added 1,364 and its subsidiary Shaw Direct added 1,952 in its first two quarters of the fiscal year.
"The significant turnaround in TV subscriber performance at Shaw Cable as a result of the launch of its [new IPTV service] is almost entirely behind the improved cord-cutting numbers for the first half of 2017," Mota said.