Parsing numbers sometimes is a challenge when looking at subscriber gains and losses in the consumer telecom business.
An illustration: how many subscribers did Dish Network gain or lose in its second quarter of 2015? And did HBO lose linear video subs when it launched HBO Now, the stand-alone streaming service?
Dish Network reported losing 81,000 video subs in the quarter, about double the loss of 44,000 subs in the same period of 2014.
But its actual loss of satellite TV customers may have been more like 151,000, according to MoffettNathanson.
The reason is that Dish Network included gains from the over the top Sling TV service in its basic subscriber count.
Dish Network gained 70,000 Sling accounts in the quarter.
When we launched Sling TV, Dish Network expected to get subscribers from three categories, cord-nevers (people who never have bought any subscription video product), cord-cutters (former linear video subscribers) and supplementers who buy linear video and also Sling TV.
“The vast, vast majority of the subscribersthat we take on do not currently have Pay-TV at the time they subscribe to Sling TV,” said Roger Lynch, Sling TV CEO.
That suggests most of the Sling TV net adds are not coming from the ranks of linear video subscribers. But the combined figures also obscure the extent of Dish Network linear video subscriber losses.
HBO says less than one percent of HBO NOW subscribers are former HBO linear subscribers who dropped the linear service to subscribe to HBO Now.
As with Dish Network's Sling TV service, it appears that new subscribers to the over the top subscribers are not cord cutters.
They are, as Dish Network hoped would be the case, “cord nevers,” those who never have purchased cable TV.
A broader shift from linear to streaming still is coming. But, at the moment, the linear providers seem to be succeeding at attracting brand new consumers to their OTT services.