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US pay TV revenues set for $26.6bn drop – forecast

The number of traditional pay TV subscribers in the US peaked in 2012 and will drop by 20% between 2012 and 2023, with revenues set to fall US$26.6 billion, according to a new study.

Digital TV Research’s North America Pay TV Forecasts report claims that traditional pay TV subscriber numbers in the US hit a peak of 100.3 million in 2012, fell to 90.4 million at the end of 2017 and will drop to 80.3 million in 2023.

Pay TV penetration will fall from a high of 87.6% of US TV households in 2013 to 66.7% in 2023, according to the eighth edition of the North America report.

Canada is also losing pay TV subscribers. Here pay TV penetration peaked at 85.1% in 2013 and is expected to fall to 74.8% by 2023.

However, the research said that Canada’s “problems are not as severe” and estimated that the number of Canadian pay TV subscribers will be 11.2 million by 2023 – about the same as in 2017.

In terms of pay TV revenues, the study claims these peaked in the US at US$101.7 billion in 2015 and will drop to US$75.1 billion in 2023 – a decline of 26% between 2015 and 2023.

In Canada, pay TV revenues are expected to fall from a high of US$6.82 billion in 2015 to US$6.01 billion by 2023.

“Cable TV is not the only platform to suffer,” said Digital TV Research principal analyst Simon Murray. “Satellite TV and IPTV are also losing subscribers and revenues.

“Much of this is due to the operators shifting their subscribers to online platforms. However, growth from vMVPDs is not expected to make up completely for the subscriber and revenue shortfalls from traditional pay TV.”

US cable TV revenues peaked at US$54.1 billion in 2010 and will fall to US$36.8 billion by 2023, losing twelve million subscribers over this time period, according to the research.

US satellite TV revenues are tipped to fall from US$39.78 billion in 2017 to US$33.61 billion in 2023, with subscriptions dropping by 4.1 million over the same time.

US IPTV revenues, meanwhile, reached a high of US$9.6 billion in 2015 and will fall to US$4.77 billion in 2023, with the subscriber numbers dropping from twelve million in 2014 to 6.26 million in 2023.