Cord-Cutting Household Total Approaches Number Of Pay-TV Subscribers, Study Finds

Cord Cutting

With cord-cutting continuing to accelerate, the number of U.S. households without a traditional pay TV subscription is quickly approaching those that have one, according to a new study by eMarketer.

The number of households cutting the cord jumped another 19.2% in 2019, the research firm found.

This year, the number of pay TV households in the U.S. will decline by 4.2% to 86.5 million. With that negative growth rate holding relatively steady, the number of households subscribing to traditional pay TV services will drop below 80 million by 2021. At that time, more than one-fifth of households will be cord-cutters.

By 2023, eMarketer projects, the total number of pay-TV subscribers will be 72.7 million, down from 100.5 million in 2014. The number of households without a cable, satellite or telco pay subscription will be 56.1 million, more than double the 22 million in 2014.

“As programming costs continue to rise, cable, satellite and telco operators are finding it difficult to turn a profit on some TV subscriptions,” eMarketer forecasting analyst Eric Haggstrom said.

“Their answer has been to raise prices across the board, and it seems that they are willing to lose customers rather than retain them with unprofitable deals,” he added. “This has been a boon for TV providers, who also offer broadband internet, as it removes consumers from bundled deals. It forces consumers to pay a higher price for internet, which dramatically improves profit margins.”

Not only is the number of TV viewers declining, but those who are still watching traditional TV are watching less. This year, TV time will drop 3% to 3 hours and 40 minutes on average among US TV viewers. All age groups are showing declines in time spent watching TV, but the largest drops are occurring among viewers ages 17 and under.

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