Report: 2020 U.S. multichannel video loss topped 7 million subscribers

March 8, 2021
Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence, also reports that virtual subscription momentum slowed in Q4 of last year.

Traditional U.S. multichannel video service plumbed new depths in 2020 with a decline of nearly 7.2 million subscriptions, according to full market estimates from Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The research adds that virtual multichannel services blunted the overall erosion of people taking a package of live linear channels, but the estimated 2.7 million new subscribers for the services that increasingly resemble the traditional services being displaced fell short of offsetting cable, telco and satellite defections.

Kagan also said that losses for those traditional cable, telco and satellite providers slowed in the fourth quarter, but the full-year decline underscored that the impacts of the pandemic amplified cord cutting instead of insulating an industry built around home entertainment.

Meanwhile, the researcher found the fourth quarter offered an overall improvement in traditional subscription losses at 1.5 million -- but that the virtual segment did not maintain the surprising momentum from the third quarter, tallying a tepid estimated gain of 223,000 to finish the year at nearly 12.5 million subscriptions.

"Americans continue to leave traditional video services in droves, with 6.8 million households cutting the cord in 2020," commented Tony Lenoir, senior analyst with Kagan.

Additional penetration takeaways from Kagan's full year 2020 report noted that: the combined penetration of traditional and virtual subscriptions, which accounts for the total households in the U.S. taking a package of live, linear channels, dropped below 67% at year end; and that the percentage of households in the U.S. with a traditional multichannel subscription dropped to less than 57%.

S&P Global Market Intelligence's Kagan research team provides in-depth coverage and deep analyses of the global technology, media and telecommunications sectors (TMT). For more information, visit