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American Pay-TV Providers Stabilize Subscriber Decline

As the video entertainment market evolves in America, the traditional pay-TV service providers are seeking to maintain their subscriber base in the face of rising operational costs related to content, which often directly translates into higher service fees for their customers.

Meanwhile, short-term promotional discounts are still being applied to attract potential new customers to the traditional pay-TV offerings. But it's becoming increasing difficult to compete with the value-based pricing of the over-the-top (OTT) streaming video services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) .

According to the latest market study by Leichtman Research Group (LRG), 83 percent of all U.S. households nationwide subscribe to some form of pay-TV service. That being said, the percentage of households that subscribe to a pay-TV service is down from 87 percent in 2010.

"Changes in the dynamics of the pay-TV industry are not driven just by those exiting the category, but also those coming into the category," said Bruce Leichtman, principal analyst for Leichtman Research Group.

While the total number of subscribers for the top American pay-TV providers at the end of 2Q 2015 is similar to the total at the end of 2Q 2010, the flat growth doesn't reflect the changes in the overall market -- occupied housing in the U.S. increased by more than 4.5 million units since 2010.

Among TV households that do not currently subscribe to a pay-TV service, 17 percent paid for a service in the past year, while 70 percent of non-subscribers last subscribed over three years ago, or never subscribed to a pay-TV service.

Overall, about 2.5 percent of TV households paid to subscribe to a service in the past year, but currently do not (they disconnected service, for whatever reason) -- compared to 1.5 percent in 2010.

Other findings from the LRG study include:
  • In households using a TV, 12 percent of home owners do not subscribe to a pay-TV service – compared to 23 percent of renters.
  • 21 percent of those who moved in the past year do not currently subscribe to a pay-TV service -- that's compared to 12 percent in 2010.
  • 35 percent using one TV set at home are non-subscribers -- that's compared to 10 percent using two or more TV sets.
  • Mean reported monthly spending on traditional pay-TV service is $99.10  that's an increase of 39 percent since 2010.
  • 63 percent of non-subscribers get a subscription video on-demand (SVOD) service (such as Netflix or Hulu), and 62 percent have an over-the-air (OTA) TV antenna.
  • In total, 5 percent of all households are pay-TV non-subscribers with both an SVOD service and an OTA antenna -- while 4 percent of all households are pay-TV non-subscribers with SVOD but no OTA antenna.

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