• Forecast: Cord-Cutting to Quadruple Over Next 5 Years

    A forecast from The Diffusion Group last week calls for the rate of cord-cutting in the U.S. to nearly quadruple over the next 5 years compared to the rate for the prior 5 years. TDG expects by 2025 pay-TV subscribers will contract by 36% from 2020, compared with a 9.5% contraction experienced in the 2015-2019 period.

    Overall TDG sees legacy pay-TV providers ending 2020 with around 76 million subscribers. TDG also sees virtual pay-TV providers ending 2020 with around 11 million subscribers.

    The 36% drop would imply about 49 million legacy pay-TV subscribers in 2025. By 2025, TDG forecasts 58 million U.S. broadband households - less than half of their total - to not have any form of pay-TV service.

    Related, CNBC reported a couple days ago that three large, though unnamed, media companies, expect around 25 million U.S. households to cut the cord in the next 5 years, with pay-TV subscriptions stabilizing around 50 million, which would be roughly in line with TDG’s estimate.

    All large media companies have launched or announced plans to launch direct-to-consumer streaming services, with either ad-supported, paid or hybrid models. These services mitigate the impact of cord-cutting but also accelerate its rate, as consumers have more options for how to access their favorite programming.

    TDG sees broadband-only households as taking greater control of how to configure their preferred set of services, compared with pay-TV operators’ bundling model of the past. I’ve seen varying research on how many paid streaming services consumers will be willing to eventually take. As cord-cutting increases, there’s clearly going to be an escalating battle for paid subscribers, because advertising alone isn’t going to replace lost pay-TV subscription spending for TV networks and other content providers.