Study: 71% of TV Households Have a Pay-TV Service


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Hand holding a remote control in front of a TV

As cord cutting continues to revolutionize the media landscape, a new study by Leichtman Research Group, Inc. finds that 71% of TV households nationwide have some form of pay-TV service (via cable, satellite, Telco, or Internet-delivered vMVPD).

The latest figure is an 11% decrease from 2016 (82%), which in turn was a decrease from 87% in 2011, and 86% in 2006. The LRG study details how the decline continues between different age groups that use a pay-TV service. 

In TV households, 64% of adults ages 18-44 and 77% of ages 45+ have a pay-TV service, which is a stark change from 2016, when 77% of adults ages 18-44 and 86% of ages 45+ had a pay-TV service.

Not only are viewing habits different between ages, but the LRG study shows a difference from recent movers. Of those that were surveyed, 41% of those that moved in the past year do not currently have a pay-TV service – a higher level than in previous years. The trend continued as viewing habits differed between renters and homeowners by a 10% difference —35% of renters do not have a pay-TV service compared to 25% of homeowners.

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

Other notable findings include:

  • 30% of pay-TV non-subscribers last had a pay-TV service within the past 3 years, 36% last had a pay-TV service >3 years ago, and 34% never had a pay-TV service
  • 54% of pay-TV non-subscribers that never had a service are ages 18-34 – while 28% of non-subscribers that formerly had pay-TV are in that age range
  • 26% of adults agree that it is OK to use a friend’s log-in passwords to watch live TV, including 40% of ages 18-34
  • 37% of all TV sets in use have a traditional pay-TV providers’ set-top box – compared to 58% in 2016

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