82 Percent of TV Households Subscribe to a Pay-TV Service

DURHAM, NH — New consumer research from Leichtman Research Group (LRG) finds that about 82 percent of TV households nationwide subscribe to some form of pay-TV service. The percentage of TV households that subscribe to a pay-TV service is down from 87 percent in 2011, and similar to 82 percent in 2005.

Among TV households that do not currently subscribe to a pay-TV service, 14 percent paid for a service in the past year. Overall, about 2.6 percent of TV households paid to subscribe to a traditional pay-TV service in the past year, but currently do not — compared to 2.5 percent in 2015, 3 percent in 2014, 1.5 percent in 2011, and 2 percent in 2006.

While those who stopped subscribing to a service in the past year is similar to last year and to a decade ago, the study found that about 1 percent of pay-TV subscribers were new to the category in the past year — compared to 1 percent in 2015, 1 percent in 2011, and about 3.5 percent in 2006.

These findings are based on a telephone survey of 1,206 households from throughout the United States, and are part of a new LRG study, Cable, DBS & Telcos: Competing for Customers 2016. This is LRG's fourteenth annual study on this topic.

Other related findings include:

  • Overall, about 3 percent of TV households last subscribed to a pay-TV service 1 to 3 years ago, about 6 percent subscribed over 3 years ago, and about 6 percent never subscribed to a pay-TV service

  • 7 percent of current pay-TV subscribers did not subscribe to a TV service for more than a month at some time over the past two years

  • 25 percent of those who moved in the past year do not currently subscribe to a pay-TV service — a higher level than in previous years

  • 12 percent of pay-TV subscribers are likely to switch from their provider in the next six months — similar to 11 percent in 2015, and 12 percent in 2014

  • 6 percent of pay-TV subscribers are likely to disconnect from their provider and not subscribe to any TV service in the next six months — similar to 7 percent in 2015, and 7 percent in 2014

  • Mean reported monthly spending on pay-TV service is $103.10 — an increase of 4 percent in the past year (the lowest annual increase in five years)

"About 82 percent of households that use a TV currently subscribe to a pay-TV service. This is down from where it was five years ago, and similar to the penetration level eleven years ago," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group. "The rates of those exiting the category, or intending to leave, are actually similar to recent years. The decline in penetration is also due to a lack of those who are coming into the category, and the industry not keeping pace with movers and related rental housing growth."


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