Cable TV subscriptions set to drop below 50% of all US households

Between 2016 and 2021 cable has lost more than 25% of all US households.

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Fewer than half of all U.S. households will have a cable TV subscription by 2023, according to a new study. The study, by Insider Intelligence, expects the total number of pay TV households to drop to 65.1 million, a 4.8% decrease from 2022. That is 49.5% of all U.S. households.

This continues the cord cutting trend that’s hit cable very hard. From 2016 to 2021, pay TV has lost more than 50 million adult viewers (or 25.5 million households). The most unsettling news for cable companies: The steepest drop came in 2020, when more people than ever were stuck home, which saw a 7.7% drop.

Many people are turning to virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs), like Hulu and YouTubeTV. By the end of 2022, 15 million households will subscribe to a vMVPD, up 7.6% from 2021 and representing 11.4% of all US households. That said, this growth will not be enough to offset the decline of pay TV. In 2022, 63.2% of all households will have either pay TV or a vMVPD, but this figure will decline to 54.8% in 2026.

Why we care: Getting your marketing mix right is always a challenge. While TV is still big, it continues to shrink. Further, it’s clear the public is turning away from cable and on-line multi-channel providers. This means fewer chances to get big tent audiences and more emphasis on sharp targeting in other channels.  

Related: How to use QR codes to leverage CTV and cross-channel campaigns


About the author

Constantine von Hoffman
Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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