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New eMarketer Estimates Show Pay TV Audience Edging Lower

Subscribers stack OTT services, shave the cord

January 17, 2017 | Video | Media & Entertainment

One in five US adults will not watch traditional pay TV programming in 2017, according to eMarketer's new estimates. The total number of households subscribing to cable, satellite, or telco TV packages will inch down 0.7% to 98.7 million. And that figure will continue to decline in tiny increments.

US Pay TV Subscription Households, 2015-2020 (millions and % change)

This year, 1.7 million US adults will cut the cable/satellite cord, as many of them opt for on-demand OTT services instead. But pay TV is still the dominant medium. This year, 201.8 million US adults will watch traditional cable and satellite TV, while 175.4 million adults will watch digital video.

Meanwhile, time spent with traditional TV in 2017 will drop slightly to 4 hours 1 minutes per day, still far surpassing time spent with digital video, which will reach 1 hour and 12 minutes per day.

Listen to eMarketer's Paul Verna and Marcus Johnson discuss the evolving pay TV and digital video market in the latest episode of the Behind the Numbers podcast.

OTT services will add more users this year than pay TV will lose. Still, said eMarketer Senior Analyst Paul Verna, "traditional pay TV remains an attractive option for many consumers, mostly because it still delivers content that's not readily available on streaming platforms, such as news and live sports."

As their choices widen, users are opting for hybrids of traditional and digital rather than one or the other, Verna said. "The bottom line is consumers love TV programming, whether it's delivered via the internet, cable, satellite or antennas. As long as that remains the case, content owners and distributors will be able to keep monetizing this content through advertising, subscriptions, or some combination of both."

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