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U.S. Pay TV penetration to plummet below 50% of TV households by 2026

Pay TV penetration in the United States will drop to below 50% of TV households by 2026, according to a forecast by Digital TV Research. Between 2019 and 2021, the U.S. lost 6 million Pay TV subscribers a year and the total is set to fall to 60 million in 2027 – 45 million subscribers less than Pay TV’s peak year in 2010.

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By 2026, Pay TV penetration in the United States will drop to below 50% of TV households, according to a forecast by Digital TV Research. This figure represents a decline from 60% penetration in 2021 and a significant fall from 2010 – the peak year for U.S. Pay TV penetration – when the U.S. had 105 million Pay TV subscribers and a penetration of 91% of TV households. Digital TV Research predicts that by 2027 the total numbers of Pay TV subscribers in the country will be 60 million.

Simon Murray, Principal Analyst at Digital TV Research, says: “The U.S. lost 6 million Pay TV subscribers each year from 2019 to 2021. Losses will decrease from now on, but the 2027 total will be 12 million lower than 2021.”

The number of households without a Pay TV subscription will reach 72.86 million in the country by 2027, according to Digital TV Research, which also predicts that U.S. Pay TV revenues will experience a $48B decline between 2014 and 2027, bringing the total to $53B.

In contrast, Digital TV Research forecasts that U.S. SVOD subscriptions will rise by 33% from 338 million at end-2021 to 450 million in 2026. 87% of TV households will subscribe to at least one SVOD service by 2026, representing a 5% rise over the equivalent figure for end-2021.

Digital TV Research says, “The average SVOD household will pay for 4.26 SVOD platforms by 2026. The average SVOD subscriber was set to pay for 3.42 SVOD platforms at end-2021. Therefore, the average SVOD home will add nearly one paid-for subscription between 2021 and 2026.”


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