Report: Hard Times -and Harder to Come- For Cable, Satellite, and IPTV Pay-Tv Providers

Cable, satellite and IPTV pay-TV providers in the United States are facing hard times, according to GlobalData. The firm says this class of providers — which enjoyed penetration rates exceeding 85% in 2009 and 2010 — will have only a 42% penetration rate this year as consumers switch to over-the-top streaming.

And it will get worse. The firm says that penetration will drop to 32% in 2028.

According to the firm’s “United States Pay-TV Forecast,” subscription rates will fall below 50 million by 2025 from the category.

“Younger generations tend to adopt new technologies and services like video streaming, but an additional element of the cord-nevers is the emergence of the ‘generation rent’ phenomenon,” GlobalData Principal Analyst Jesús Romo said in a press release.

“Younger consumers who are priced out of the housing market and rent for longer periods may prefer more flexible entertainment options that do not require a physical installation, are generally unbundled, and allow them to cancel and resubscribe.”

Cable companies are becoming bigger fishes in the smaller pond. Cable operators will control 69% of the pay-TV market by 2028, compared to 64% this year. Cable’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2023 to 2028 will be -3%. That’s not good, but better than satellite (-6%) and IPTV (-12%).

Also not good: Pay-TV subscription revenue will “plummet” from $80.8 billion this year to less than $63.6 billion in 2028, a CAGR of -5%.

Tammy Parker, Principal Analyst at GlobalData added that sports programming traditionally has been pay-TV’s ace in the hole. That dynamic is shifting. Steaming video providers, she said, are “encroaching on that sacrosanct relationship” with some sports migrating to streaming. Parker pointed to NFL Thursday Night Football (which now is on Amazon Prime) and the Major League Soccer’s MLS Season Pass (which now is on Apple TV+).


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