Pay TV Universe Shrinks to 79% of U.S. Households

Down from 84% in 2014, 88% in 2010, Leichtman Research Group says
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Reflecting the subscriber erosion that’s affecting many TV service providers, about 79% of TV homes nationwide subscribe to some form of a pay TV service, down from 84% in 2014, 88% in 2010, and 81% in 2004, according to a new study from Leichtman Research Group.

“This is down from the peak in pay-TV penetration at the start of the decade, and represents the first time since the early 2000s that fewer than four-in-five TV households get a pay-TV service,” Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for LRG, said in a statement. He said the drop in pay TV penetration is not solely a function of recent disconnects, noting that among those without a pay TV service today, about one-third of that group subscribed to a pay TV service in the past three years, and one-third subscribed over three years ago.

LRG,  in a survey of 1,201 U.S. homes for its Pay-TV in the U.S. 2017 study, said that among TV households that do not currently take a payTV service, about two-thirds were former pay TV subscribers, while one-third never had pay TV.

About 7% of TV households subscribed to a pay-TV service in the past three years, 7% last subscribed to pay TV over three years ago, and about 7% never subscribed to a pay TV service, LRG said.

LRG also found that 29% of TV homes with annual incomes of $50,000 or less do not subscribe to a pay TV service, compared to 16% with incomes of 50,000 or more.

Some 39% using one TV at home are non-subscribers, up from 24% using two TVs and 12% with three TVs or more.

Just 10% of non-subscribers plan to subscribe to a pay TV service in the next six months, including 24% that had a pay TV service in the past year, LRG said.

Additionally, 92% of TV households have a pay TV service and/or an over-the-air antenna, down from 94% in 2015. The mean reported monthly spending on pay TV service among subscribers is roughly $106, up 3% in the past year.