Analyst: Pay-TV to Lose 50% of U.S. Subs by 2024

Cord-cutting among pay-TV households in the United States is real and growing — even during a pandemic. New data from eMarketers finds that 33% of all domestic pay-TV homes will cut the cord by 2024 — with 31.2 million households dropping either cable, satellite or telecom service this year. And 6.6 million households will cancel their pay-TV subscriptions.

“Consumers are choosing to cut the cord because of high prices, especially compared with streaming video alternatives, analyst Eric Haggstrom said in a statement. “The loss of live sports in [the first half of the year] contributed to further declines. While sports have returned, people will not return to their old cable or satellite plans.”

The ongoing secular shift toward over-the-top video leaves about 77.6 million domestic households with cable, satellite, or telecom TV in 2020, down 7.5% year-over-year and the biggest drop ever, according to eMarketer. The tally is down 22.8% from pay-TV’s peak in 2014. By the end of 2024, fewer than half of U.S. households will subscribe to a pay-TV service.

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The loss of viewers is having a major hit to traditional TV ad spending. Total spend will drop 15% this year to $60 billion, the lowest the industry has seen since 2011.  And while it will rebound some next year, eMarketer contends TV ad spending will remain below pre-pandemic levels through at least 2024.

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