US pay TV penetration forecast to fall

The number of North American pay TV subscribers will continue to rise between now and 2020 despite talk of cord-cutting, although overall penetration will fall, according to a new report from Digital TV Research.

An estimated five million subscribers will be added to the North American pay TV total between now and 2020, taking the overall total to 116.6 million, after a slight decline in 2013, according to the Digital TV North America report.

The report predicts, however, that pay TV penetration in North America will drop from 87% in 2010 to 82.8% by 2020.

Pay TV losses will primarily come from analogue cable, according to Digital TV Research, with analogue cable customers predicted to fall to 3.75 million by the end of this year.

Digital TV penetration is expected to rise to 100% by 2017 as analogue cable disappears. Digital cable numbers are expected to rise by 5.5 million between 2013 and 2020, while IPTV subscribers will grow by 5.9 million, digital-terrestrial homes will grow by 4.6 million and 900,000 new digital satellite homes will be added.

Overall, the report predicts 60.4 million digital cable homes by 2020, down from 62.4 million in 2013, taking cable penetration down to 43.4%.

Digital TV Research predicts that pay TV revenues in North America will decline by US$8.75 billion to US$86.61 billion by 2020 as operators compete over price and cable and IPTV providers emphasise triple-play bundles.

Satellite pay TV revenues will rise by US$1.2 billion over the next seven years to reach US$42.8 billion, while cable revenues will fall by US$13 billion, according to the report.