For the first time, the number of cord cutters is expected to surpass the number of viewers paying for traditional TV services like cable and satellite.
By the end of 2023, the number of pay TV customers in the U.S. is expected to drop 10.2% to 121.1 million while non-pay TV customers will climb 12.5% to 144.1 million, according to research and data firm Insider Intelligence.
Cord cutting has blossomed in popularity over the last several years and Insider Intelligence‘s data estimates continued growth. By 2027, the research firm forecasts 182.4 million people will use non-pay TV services like Netflix and Hulu, while the number of cable TV viewers will dwindle to 91.3 million.
“Regardless of how one defines pay TV, there is an unmistakable attrition in the number of people who are willing to pay upwards of $100 a month for a live TV bundle,” Paul Verna, vice president of content at Insider Intelligence, said in a statement. “The cord cutters have won.”
Other research firms have reported similar findings about viewers increasingly migrating away from cable TV. Ampere Analysis said we’ll see the first yearly decline in global pay TV penetration, which has fallen in North America alone from 84% in 2009 to 45% in 2023. The nearly halved penetration is due to a combination of cable’s high cost and competition from subscription video-on-demand services.
Cable TV providers are starting to align themselves more closely with streaming services and striking bundle deals.
“The second-biggest cable TV provider in the U.S,, Charter Communications, essentially acknowledged this during its recent carriage dispute with Disney,” Verna said. “Other top pay TV providers like Comcast and DirecTV will also need to accelerate their transitions from traditional pay TV to internet delivery to support the migration to streaming.”