Only 79% of U.S. homes have pay TV, research group says

Cord cutting
Traditional U.S. cable, satellite and telco video service providers have lost 3.1% of their user base in the last 12 months.

Leichtman Research Group said that only 79% of U.S. TV homes subscribe to some form of pay-TV service, linear or virtual. 

The number represents a significant decrease from the 84% of homes that reported having pay-TV services in 2014. In 2010, 88% of survey TV home respondents told Leichtman they had pay TV. 

Leichtman's report came as Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser reported that traditional U.S. cable, satellite and telco video service providers have lost 3.1% of their user base in the last 12 months.

Using Nielsen data, Wieser also determined that virtual MVPDs have gathered around 1.5 million users since October 2016, offsetting the total loss to the pay-TV ecosystem and bringing it to around 2% year over year. 

TV homes increased by about 1% over the period. 

With customers migrating to the skinny bundles of virtual services, less vertically integrated programmers saw big distribution losses for some of their networks. Discovery Family Channel, for example, is down 11.2% in subscribers since October of last year, while Destination America (off 11.1%) and Science (down 9.2%) were also among the biggest subscriber losers. 

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According to Leichtman, the leading U.S. pay-TV operators ended the second quarter with just under 90.7 million subscribers, once vMVPD additions were factored out—down around 2.9 million, or roughly 3%, since the end of the third quarter of last year. 

Operators lost a record 976,000 users in the second quarter. And the trends don’t look favorable for the third quarter, with disruptions caused by natural disasters contributing to the misery.