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Yesterday, we compared the top cable, satellite and fiber pay TV providers to see just how big some of them are. They were huge, which is no surprise in an industry that is dominated by regional monopolies. But, somewhat surprisingly, Netflix is bigger than Comcast and the rest of the motley gang of old-school pay TV companies – despite the fact that most cable companies enjoy ridiculous monopolies that should help boost their numbers…

In fact, Netflix is bigger than the top three cable giants (Comcast, Charter, and Cox) combined. That is stunning, since together those companies cover almost the entire United States (remember that Charter now includes Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks). Here's how Netflix stacks up against its pay TV rivals in terms of subscribers:

  1. Netflix (OTT): 47,130,000
  2. AT&T U-Verse and DirecTV (IPTV/satellite): 25,300,000
  3. Comcast (cable): 22,400,000
  4. Charter Communications (cable): 17,000,000
  5. DISH Network (satellite): 13,874,000
  6. Verizon FiOS (fiber): 4,700,000

(sources: DISH Network Q1 earnings report, Netflix Q2 earnings report, Variety (1, 2), Wikipedia)

That list includes satellite and fiber companies as well as cable companies, but Netflix dominates them all. As we mentioned above, Netflix's subscriber base is larger than the top three cable subscriber bases combined (third-place cable company Cox is pushed off of this list, but has a relatively small base of around 4 million people). AT&T Inc.'s satellite and IPTV offerings combine for a larger subscriber base than any cable company's, but their numbers still pale in comparison to Netflix's. Netflix has 86.3% more subscribers than AT&T.

And for all of this domination, we're not even looking at overseas markets, where the U.S. based cable companies have no additional subscribers to speak of. Netflix has another 36 million customers overseas, and it has continued to grow into new markets!

Speaking of growth, that's another area where the cable companies are lagging sorely behind Netflix. Cable companies routinely report subscriber losses these days, while Netflix is also still growing (even if they did so a little more slowly than they would have liked in Q2 of 2016). Satellite companies, for their part, are more or less stagnant.

Of course, many consumers still have both cable and Netflix, so the subscriber bases above aren't all mutually exclusive groups. But combined with what we know about cord cutting trends, these numbers show that Netflix is dominating individual cable companies and is rapidly leaving its legacy competition in the dust.

9 thoughts on “Netflix Has More U.S. Subscribers Than the Top 3 Cable Companies Combined

  1. John says:

    You’re comparing apples and oranges. Netflix has no sports, no current TV seasons and isn’t a direct replacement for cable/sat. Pointless article.

  2. Tricia says:

    …and the customers’ data is provided by… Comcast, Charter, or Cox. Whats the point here, again?

  3. Bob Bagnall says:

    I see Jonny can’t do the new math… 25 + 22 + 17 < 47 ¿¿¿ WHAT ???

    1. says:

      AT&T isn’t exactly a cable company, so the calculation should be: 22 + 17 + 4 < 47.

      1. NickIndy says:

        They are a high speed provider.

  4. NickIndy says:

    The better argument is that NETFLIX does not supply service to your home or device. Cable and satellite providers are providing a service akin to electricity and water. Netflix do not.

    I would like to know how many of those 47 mil subs have both, I would guess almost all.

  5. Darrel says:

    So cable companies are both ridiculous monopolies but are also Netflix’ legacy competition that is being left behind in the dust.

    Very insightful. Usually I must talk to the mailman for such competitive analysis.

  6. Mark Boswell says:

    Did you happen to consider that Netflix is international while these companies are located in the US only (maybe DirecTV stems out a little, but not much). Re-do your math correctly this time and use only US subscribers for Netflix and I bet you’ll see they don’t stack up correctly.

    1. says:

      You’re right, Mark.

      We did use Netflix’s US numbers here.

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