Report: Cord Cutting Will Drive Average Household Spending on Pay TV to Lowest Point Since 2006
Cablers and satellite TV providers knew it was coming. They’ve been able to see the writing on the wall for years, and many companies are already preparing for it by doing whatever they can to build up their streaming services. Pay TV is on its way out, and one report suggests that more than half of American households have cut the cord for good.
A new survey from the media research firm Ampere Analysis gives pay-TV providers even more cause to be concerned. The data from Ampere shows that in 2023, average spending per household in the United States on video services (pay TV, streaming, and movie theater trips) will fall, after peaking at $1,146 per household in 2022. Cord cutting will be the biggest driver of losses, and it will cause the yearly pay-TV investment per household to fall below $650 for the first time since 2006.
Ampere’s survey also shows that streaming revenues will slow their growth. Streaming will continue to grow as an industry, but the saturation of the market and outside economic pressures such as inflation will bring a slower rate of expansion than the streaming market saw in 2022. Last year, consumer outlay on subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services rose 18% over 2021’s figures, to an average of $374 per household per year.
Interestingly, the data from Ampere indicates that Norway could overtake the U.S. in average TV spending per household by 2025. The company attributes this to the healthy pay-TV market in Western Europe and the increasing presence of SVOD services. In the last two years, Norway and other Western European countries have gained access to HBO Max, the free streaming service Pluto TV, Starzplay and SkyShowtime, a combination of Peacock,Paramount+ and SHOWTIME.
“Spend on video has finally hit its limit for US households,” Ampere analyst Maria Dunleavy said. “As the U.S. subscription [streaming] market edges closer to saturation point and demand for pay TV continues to fall, annual spend per household on video services has tipped into decline. By 2027, unless streaming services can sustain significant price inflation, U.S. households will be investing almost 90 dollars less per year on video services.”
The numbers from Ampere seem to belie the idea that users adding streaming services will help mitigate losses on the pay-TV side of the American media equation. Comcast CFO Jason Armstrong disagrees, judging by comments he made at the recent Deutsche Bank Media Internet and Telecom Conference.
“If you want to make it more of a parity trade-off, you can,” Armstrong said. “You’re adding a streaming sub as you lose linear subs, and you’ve sort of got it covered domestically.”
Comcast suffered the largest loss in cable subscribers of any pay-TV provider in the U.S. in 2022, but more than doubled the number of paid users on its streaming service Peacock, so perhaps Armstrong has a point. Not all cablers have a streaming service waiting in the wings to absorb its linear losses, however, and on average pay TV will decline faster than streaming can make up the difference.
Peacock is a subscription video streaming service from NBCUniversal that includes original shows, blockbuster movies, and classic television series. Peacock is home to “Yellowstone,” and “The Office,” as well as original hits like “Poker Face” and “Bel-Air.” You can also watch live sports including Sunday Night Football, Premier League, and exclusive MLB games. Peacock is also the exclusive home to many WWE events like WrestleMania. Premium Plus subscribers can stream their local NBC feed in all 210 markets.
Peacock includes news, entertainment, sports, late-night, and reality from various NBCU properties including NBC, Bravo, and E!.
Peacock also includes the entire library of Bravo shows and has exclusives like “Below Deck: Down Under.” They also include live and on-demand access to Hallmark channels.
The company has acquired the rights to many classic shows like “Parks and Recreation,” and the entire Dick Wolf library including “Law & Order” and “Chicago Fire.”
The service also features blockbusters and critically-acclaimed films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and content acquired from Hollywood’s biggest studios.