TV subscribers dwindling, but prices rise, CRTC data shows

About 160,000 Canadians cancelled their TV subscription last year, but the industry managed to offset that loss by charging the remaining customers more.

Cord-cutting on the rise, but so are monthly bills for cable and satellite TV customers

TV subscriptions fell last year, the CRTC said, but companies were able to offset that a little by charging their customers more for service. (Shutterstock)

About 160,000 Canadians cancelled their TV subscription last year, but the industry managed to offset that loss by charging the remaining customers more.

That's one of the main points from a CRTC report Wednesday that looks at the financial health of Canadian cable television, IPTV and satellite television companies.

The broadcast regulator says the overall number of TV subscribers dipped from 11,404,591 in 2014 to 11,246,669 in 2015. That's a decrease of 157,992 people. 

Upstart Internet Protocol television companies — such as VMedia, Primus, Zazeen and ViaNet TV — saw double-digit increases in their customer numbers during the year compared with the previous year.

But those small increases on the margins weren't enough to offset deeper cuts at conventional cable and satellite television companies.

While the number of TV subscribers declined, the hit to the companies' bottom line wasn't quite as dire, as revenues dipped by just 0.1 per cent to $8.9 billion.

That's because TV providers managed to squeeze more money out of their remaining customers by offering them expanded or better services. The average TV subscriber's monthly bill ticked up from $65.25 in 2014 to $66.08 in 2015.

But more pressure on the revenue side of things compelled TV companies to cut costs, too. They spent less on making Canadian content last year, with the total falling by $38.1 million to $436.9 million.

"Of this amount, $219.6 million was directed to the Canada Media Fund, $64.7 million to independent funds and $152.6 million to community channels and other sources of local content," the CRTC said.

Overall, the TV industry saw its costs of doing business increase by 1.3 per cent to $7.2 billion. 

And the industry employed 27,244 people in 2015, down 6.3 per cent compared with 2014's level.

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story said about 200,000 Canadians cut the cord last year. In fact, the CRTC report shows that 157,992 did.
    Jul 13, 2016 2:35 PM ET

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