Nearly a quarter of U.S. homes won't have pay-TV by 2019, eMarketer says

Cord cutting will accelerate over each of the next four years, with the pay-TV ecosystem reaching a 1.4 percent decline rate by 2019, a year in which 23 percent of U.S. households won't pay for traditional television.

So predicts eMarketer, which released its report one day after fellow research firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said that the pay-TV industry could potentially lose a virtually unbelievable 20 percent of its customers in 2016.

According to eMarketer, 4.9 million U.S. households will unsubscribe from traditional pay TV services in 2015, a decline of 0.6 percent of pay-TV's 2014 total base of 101.3 million U.S. subscribers. The firm expects U.S. pay-TV market to lose 0.8 percent of its customers in 2016. This loss rate will accelerate to 1.4 percent over the next five years, reaching a point at which the market will have only 96.4 million remaining subscribers. 

"This year, the number of digital video services expanded at a faster pace than ever before," said eMarketer's senior analyst Paul Verna in a statement. "In addition to standalone offerings from the likes of HBO, there are new digital bundles that include many of the channels consumers could only have received with cable and satellite subscriptions in the past. This widespread availability of digital content makes cord-cutting a viable option for a growing segment of the viewing population."

Drilling down on verticals, cable retraction is expected by eMarketer to decelerate from 2 percent last year to only 0.4 percent this year. But by 2019, the research firm says cable will be back up to shrinking at a rate of 1.4 percent. 

The satellite sector, which shrunk by 1.5 percent this year, will stay largely flat, losing 1.4 percent of its base in 2019, according to eMarketer's predictions. 

Telco-based TV operators will be flat in 2019, losing only 0.1 percent of video customers. 

For more:
- read this eMarketer report
- read this Wall Street Journal story

Related articles:
Liberty Media's Maffei: Wall Street is over-reacting to cord-cutting fears
Pay-TV could lose 20% of its subs in 2016, PwC says
Report: Cox posted short-lived anti-cord-cutting 'manifesto'

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