Research: 71% US homes still pay-TV subs

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Findings from Leichtman Research Group’s study, Pay-TV in the U.S. 2021, indicate that 71 per cent of TV households nationwide have some form of pay-TV service.  The percentage of TV households that have a live pay-TV service (via cable, satellite, Telco, or Internet-delivered vMVPD) is down from 82 per cent in 2016, 87 per cent in 2011, and 86 per cent in 2006.

Reflecting this decline, in TV households 64 per cent of adults ages 18-44 and 77 per cent of ages 45+ have a pay-TV service.  Comparatively, in 2016, 77 per cent of adults ages 18-44 and 86 per cent of ages 45+ had a pay-TV service.

Other related findings include:

  • 41 per cent of those that moved in the past year do not currently have a pay-TV service – a higher level than in previous years
  • 35 per cent of renters do not have a pay-TV service – compared to 25 per cent of homeowners
  • 30 per cent of pay-TV non-subscribers last had a pay-TV service within the past 3 years, 36 per cent last had a pay-TV service >3 years ago, and 34 per cent never had a pay-TV service
  • 54 per cent of pay-TV non-subscribers that never had a service are ages 18-34 – while 28 per cent of non-subscribers that formerly had pay-TV are in that age range
  • 26 per cent of adults agree that it is OK to use a friend’s log-in passwords to watch live TV, including 40 per cent of ages 18-34
  • 37 per cent of all TV sets in use have a traditional pay-TV providers’ set-top box – compared to 58 per cent in 2016

“The percent of US TV households with a live pay-TV service significantly declined from 82 per cent to 71 per cent over the past five years,” said Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group. “The penetration of pay-TV remains lowest among younger adults and the categories that they tend to populate, including movers and renters.”


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