Cable TV in the United States - statistics & facts
Cable TV has been a mainstay in American homes for decades and continues to hold its ground despite the growing competition presented by online services. The cable industry is still worth millions of dollars, and in 2021 cable and other pay TV providers generated an estimated revenue of more than 58 million U.S. dollars from advertising and program alone, and a further 29 million from air time revenue.
Who are the main players?
The industry is dominated by a handful of large companies. Comcast reports the largest number of pay TV subscribers in the United States, followed by AT&T Premium TV, and Charter Spectrum. In order to diversify their product offerings and stay competitive in the industry, many of these companies have begun to bundle internet and phone service options into their offerings. Comcast, for example, gains significant portions of its revenue for high-speed internet, business services, and voice options.
Channels and content
When it comes to individual channels, The Fox News Channel dominated in both the primetime slot and total viewers. The news channel averaged around 2.3 million viewers in 2022, roughly double those of one of its closest news competitors, MSNBC. In general, the most watched television programs tend to be sporting events and entertainment shows such as award ceremonies, with NBC generating close to 100 million viewers during the 2022 Superbowl.
Despite remaining able to pull in viewers and retain subscribers across the country, U.S. cable television is facing increasing competition from video streaming services. Building a subscriber base in the future will be tough given that younger consumers are the least interested in cable subscriptions and are unlikely to leave an on-demand service in favor of a more traditional medium. Indeed, the vast majority of consumers switch to on-demands services after dropping cable, and cord-cutting is on the up.
Pay TV subscriber growth tends to hover around at around -5 percent each quarter, substantially higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving the future of cable TV uncertain both in terms of attracting new subscribers as well as hanging on to existing ones.
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