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Cord-cutting in the United States - statistics & facts

Cord-cutting refers to the cancellation of multichannel cable, satellite, and other pay TV subscription services by television viewers. While this phenomenon could be observed around the world for many years, the recent wave of technological advancements and broadcast innovation such as over-the-top (OTT) media outlets and streaming services has accelerated the global cord-cutting trend like never before. In the United States, one of the countries with the highest number of pay TV subscribers worldwide, cord-cutting and other forms of consumer untethering have a particularly visible impact on the TV media landscape. Since 2010, the pay TV penetration rate in the U.S. has dropped from 88 to 71 percent, and according to the latest data, one in three Americans were likely to cancel their cable TV subscription in 2022.

Cord-cutting trends and motivations

The number of pay TV households in the U.S. declined from a peak of 100.5 million in 2014 to about 73 million in 2021. While the share of non-pay TV households has steadily increased over the past few years, the cord-cutting movement was fast-tracked by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which put a massive strain on sports events, awards shows, and other live entertainment broadcasts in the U.S. Unsurprisingly, cord-cutting is particularly popular among young audiences as viewers between the ages of 18 and 34 are most accustomed to non-linear entertainment formats and (mobile) streaming alternatives. According to a survey conducted in early 2021, the availability of online video content and the rising costs of pay TV are the main reasons for not subscribing to cable or satellite TV.

Are online streaming services killing the (pay) TV star?

Between 2015 and 2021, pay TV revenue in the U.S. decreased from 104 billion to 74 billion U.S. dollars. While the U.S. still held the highest pay TV revenue worldwide, cable companies faced sharp revenue declines due to the mounting number of cord-cutters. According to the latest estimates, U.S. pay TV providers suffered a loss of nearly 4.7 million subscribers in 2021, with DIRECTV reporting the most extensive subscriber loss that year. Subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services, on the other hand, have seen rapid growth in subscriber counts and revenues in recent years. In 2021, SVOD revenue in the U.S. reached an unparalleled 25 billion U.S. dollars, with SVOD subscribers having overtaken pay TV users several years ago. Today, TV fans are switching from linear broadcasts to more flexible and affordable entertainment options such as virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPD). While many viewers are merely supplementing their cable or satellite bundles with online content, larger numbers than ever are disconnecting from the pay TV experience altogether.

Interesting statistics

In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 23 most important statistics relating to "Cord-cutting in the United States".


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