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

  • Leichtman Research Group (LRG)
DURHAM, NH — New consumer research from Leichtman Research Group (LRG), a provider of research and analysis on broadband, finds that about 84 percent of households nationwide subscribe to some form of pay-TV service. While the reported number of pay-TV subscribers has been fairly flat over the past four years, occupied housing in the US has grown. Consequently, penetration of pay-TV among residential households has waned from its peak in 2010 following the digital transition.

Among TV households that do not currently subscribe to a pay-TV service, 6 percent plan to subscribe to a pay-TV service in the next six months, including 20 percent of those who subscribed in the past year, 2 percent who subscribed over one year ago, and 4 percent who never subscribed. Overall, 35 percent of non-subscribers never subscribed to a pay-TV service.

These findings are based on a telephone survey of 1,260 households from throughout the United States, and are part of a new LRG study, Cable, DBS & Telcos: Competing for Customers 2014. This is LRG's twelfth annual study of this topic.

Other related findings include:

  • Nationwide, 22 percent of TV households with annual incomes under $50,000 are non-subscribers, compared to 13 percent with incomes over $50,000

  • Mean reported monthly spending on pay-TV service is $89.78, an increase of 36 percent since 2009

  • 12 percent of cable TV subscribers, 12 percent of telco TV subscribers, and 11 percent of satellite TV subscribers are likely to switch from their current provider in the next six months

  • 11 percent of non-subscribers cite the Internet or Netflix as the main reason for not currently subscribing to a pay-TV service -- compared to 3 percent in 2009

  • 22 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


"The number of pay-TV subscribers in the US remains about as high as it has ever been, but penetration of pay-TV services in consumers' homes has declined over the past few years, as subscriber growth has leveled-off, while occupied housing in the U.S. has increased," said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group. "Housing growth has been exclusively among renters, who tend to be more challenging for the pay-TV industry than home owners because of their comparatively lower income, younger age, and greater likelihood to move."

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