Cord-cutting trend losing momentum, study says

cord cutting
Digital TV Research said total U.S. traditional pay TV subscribers fell from 105 million in 2010 to 91 million in 2018 and will continue to decline to 81 million in 2024. (Alyssa & Colin/Flickr)

Pay TV providers still can expect large numbers of subscribers to cancel service over the next few years, but overall the cord-cutting trend could be slowing.

That’s according to a new study from Digital TV Research, which released new U.S. pay TV forecasts that show fewer losses in 2019 and beyond.

“Despite the overall falls, cord-cutting is slowing. The U.S. will lose 3 million pay TV subscribers in 2019—down from a decline of 3.8 million in 2018. Annual losses will diminish after 2019,” said Simon Murray, principal analyst at Digital TV Research, in a statement.


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Digital TV Research said that total U.S. traditional pay TV subscribers fell from 105 million in 2010 to 91 million in 2018 and will continue to decline to 81 million in 2024. The firm also said that the number of TV households without a pay TV subscription will balloon from 11.34 million in 2010 to 48.56 million in 2024.

Surprisingly, the number of homes that don’t even own a TV set is also set to rise, from 1.27 million in 2010 onto 9.49 million in 2024.

RELATED: A lot of people have no intention of cutting the cord, study shows

Figures differ for just how bad 2018 was in terms of pay TV subscriber losses. Informitv Multiscreen Index said the U.S. pay TV industry lost a combined 2.57 million subscribers last year. Variety said the five biggest U.S. pay TV providers collectively lost around 3.2 million customers last year. And, Leichtman Research said the largest pay TV providers in the U.S.—representing about 95% of the market—lost about 2,875,000 net video subscribers in 2018, compared to a pro forma loss of about 1,510,000 subscribers in 2017.

But, the consensus among all projections is that the bulk of the losses fell at the feet of DirecTV and Dish Network. Those companies combined lost 2,360,000 subscribers in 2018.

While some pay TV subscriber losses are being offset by growth among virtual MVPDs, including Sling TV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu with Live TV and fuboTV, AT&T’s DirecTV Now took a big step in the opposite direction during the fourth quarter. In an effort to purge promotional pricing, the vMVPD lost 267,000 subscribers to close out 2018.

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