66% Of TV Households Have Pay TV, Down From 79% In 2017

Just two-thirds of U.S. TV households currently have some form of pay TV — down from 79% in 2017, according to a national survey of U.S. adults by Leichtman Research Group (LRG). 

In 2012 and 2007, 88% and 85% of households, respectively, reported having television service through cable, satellite, telco or internet-delivered virtual multichannel video programming distributor (vMVPD).

About 31% of current non-subscribers last had a pay-TV service within the past three years, 35% last had one more than three years ago, and 34% never had one.

“The decline in pay-TV subscribers is not solely a function of those disconnecting services, but is also related to a slowdown in those entering or reentering the category,” observes LRG President and Principal Analyst Bruce Leichtman. About 10.5% of total TV households last subscribed to a pay-TV service in the past three years, 12% last subscribed more than three years ago, and 11.5% never subscribed, he reports.

More than half (52%) of those who never had a pay-TV service are between 18 and 34, versus 27% of all former pay-TV subscribers.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of adults ages 45 and older have a pay-TV service, compared to 57% of those 18 to 44.

Nearly half (46%) of those who that moved in the past year do not currently have a pay-TV service — more than in previous years’ surveys.

However, just 13% of current pay-TV subscribers say they are likely to switch from their provider in the next six months. That is basically stable with 2020 (14%) and 2017 (13%).

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of households with three or more TVs have a pay-TV service, compared to 65% with two TVs and 52% with one TV.

The mean annual household income of pay-TV subscribers is 11% higher than the mean income of non-subscribers.

LRG conducted a survey of 1,850 U.S adults in September 2022 for the 2022 edition of its twentieth annual “Pay-TV in the U.S.” report (1,235 online, 615 via telephone). The random sample was distributed and weighted to reflect the demographic and geographic makeup of U.S. the U.S. The overall sample has a statistical margin of error of +/- 2.3%. The online sample used exclusively for some questions has a statistical margin of error of +/- 2.8%.

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