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Pay TV in the United States - statistics & facts

Pay TV, which refers to subscription-based cable or satellite television services, is part of the dynamic media and entertainment industry in the United States. For many decades, television has been the leading form of home entertainment in the country, with millions of viewers tuning in to watch their favorite shows, news broadcasts, and sports events from the comfort of their homes. But while the United States remains among the countries with the highest pay TV penetration rates worldwide, the ongoing proliferation of over-the-top (OTT) video services and streaming platforms has visibly affected (pay) TV viewing behavior and media consumption nationwide. Audiences increasingly cancel their pay TV subscriptions, and after almost a decade of gradual decline, the number of pay TV households in the U.S. dropped to 73 million in 2021. According to the latest data, around 7.8 million U.S. households cut the cord or never had a cable subscription in 2020, a trend that is already transforming the pay TV landscape and its players.

Can cable companies combat churn?

Comcast Corporation is the leading pay TV provider in the U.S. based on subscriptions, followed by AT&T Premium TV and Charter Spectrum. As of 2020, Comcast boasted roughly 19 million subscriptions and held a U.S. pay TV market share of around 23 percent. However, in line with industry trends, the Philadelphia-based company has experienced a gradual video subscriber loss for the better part of a decade. According to the latest estimates, U.S. pay TV providers suffered a combined net subscriber loss of nearly 4.7 million viewers in 2021, and U.S. pay TV revenue also plummeted from 104 million to 74.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2021. As many cable TV companies are also among the top providers of broadband internet, companies such as Comcast have leveled out cable subscriber loss by growing internet subscribers and revenues alike.

Streaming services are transforming the pay TV industry

Thanks to the ever-expanding selection of non-linear streaming alternatives, more viewers than ever supplement their pay TV bundle or cancel their subscription altogether. According to a recent survey, U.S. and Canadian households subscribed to pay TV and multiple streaming services to meet their entertainment needs in the first half of 2021. When asked about the main reasons for not subscribing to a pay TV service, the availability of online video content and the rising costs of pay TV were listed by most U.S. respondents. As audiences look for flexible, around-the-clock access to unlimited video content, an unprecedented number of viewers substitute their cable and satellite subscriptions for streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, or catch up on their favorite TV program solely via virtual multichannel virtual programming distributors (vMVPD).

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 36 most important statistics relating to "Pay TV in the United States".


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