Ongoing pay-TV subscriber loses in the United States are now affecting global trends. New data from Ampere Analysis finds that global pay-TV penetration (the number of pay TV subscriptions relative to the number of households) will see its first yearly decline ever in 2024.
This will follow pay-TV market penetration coming to 60.3% in the current fourth quarter. By 2028, global pay-TV penetration will have fallen by almost four percentage points.
In North America, pay-TV penetration has dropped almost 50% from a high of 84% in 2009 to 45% in 2023, caused by a combination of high subscription costs and competition from SVOD. Despite this decline, the annual revenue generated per user remains at more than $1,100, the highest across any region.
Latin America has also shown large declines in pay-TV penetration since 2016. This is largely led by Brazil, which recorded a 10% drop since its peak pay-TV penetration of 42% in 2016. Although North America and Latin America are driving the declines, all regions globally will be in decline by 2025.
Meanwhile, the Asia Pacific region and Europe have seen the highest penetration of pay-TV growth in recent years, with large gains coming from China Mobile after it acquired an online TV license in 2018. This growth has mostly been driven by low-cost IPTV services, which are often bundled into broadband packages for a low or nominal cost. While these regions will also fall into decline after 2025, there are still some growth markets, such as Portugal, Serbia and Hungary, which are expected to see further growth in the forecast period.
Senior analyst Rory Gooderick says the increased trend of bundling streaming with pay-TV offers a framework for traditional cable TV companies to transition their business into a streaming aggregation play, and stabilize subscriber churn.
“Despite the projected decline in the reach of pay-TV, cable and satellite platforms will remain a powerful force in the TV world, and important distribution partners for streaming products, as evidenced by the recent distribution deal between Disney and Charter in the U.S., which saw select Disney+ streaming services bundled into Charter’s TV packages,” Gooderick said in a statement.