Tough forecast for U.S. pay TV

March 12, 2018
According to Digital TV Research, U.S. pay TV revenues peaked in 2015, at $101.71 billion, and a $26.58 billion decline (26%) is forecast ...

According to Digital TV Research, U.S. pay TV revenues peaked in 2015, at $101.71 billion, and a $26.58 billion decline (26%) is forecast between 2015 and 2023 to take the total down to $75.13 billion.

Cable TV revenues peaked in 2010 at $54.11 billion, but they are expected to fall to $36.75 billion by 2023. Cable is expected to lose nearly 12 million subscribers between 2010 and 2023, although most of the heaviest losses have already taken place.

Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, said: "Cable TV is not the only platform to suffer. 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."

IPTV's fall is mainly attributed to AT&T (NYSE:T) encouraging its U-Verse subscribers to convert to DirecTV, its other pay TV asset. This is the reverse of what has happened in most other countries. IPTV revenues spiked in 2015 at $9.60 billion, and they are expected to halve to $4.77 billion in 2023. The number of IPTV subs topped 12.00 million in 2014, but it is expected to decline to 6.26 million in 2023.

Satellite TV revenues are expected to fall from $39.78 billion in 2017 to $33.61 billion in 2023, down by 16%. Satellite TV subscriptions are expected to drop by 4.08 million between end-2017 and 2023, having fallen by nearly 3 million in 2017 alone. DISH is pushing its vMVPD platform Sling TV hard, with DirecTV Now also making an impact.

The number of U.S. traditional pay TV subscribers is expected to fall from a zenith of 100.34 million in 2012 to 90.35 million by end-2017 and down to 80.33 million in 2023. Pay TV penetration is expected to fall from 87.6% of TV households in apex year 2013 to 66.7% in 2023.