Consulting firm PwC suggested in a recent report that contrary to what video subscriber losses suggest about the state of the U.S. pay-TV industry, TV subscribers actually increased in 2019. The report said total pay-TV subscribers remained consistent at 68%, compared to 67% in 2018. That increase came after a 6% decline from 2017 to 2018.
PwC broke down the distribution of pay-TV relationships by traditional pay-TV subscribers, cord trimmers, cord-cutters, and cord-nevers. While traditional pay-TV subscribers fell from 40% to 39%, cord trimmers rose from 27% to 29% and cord-cutters fell from 25% to 23%. Cord-nevers rose from 8% to 9%.
PwC’s conclusions are based on an October 2019 survey of 2,016 U.S. residents, ages 18-59, with annual household incomes above $40,000. But the firm’s predictions seem somewhat contradicted by the amount of pay TV subscriber losses recorded over the past few years. Analyst firm UBS indicates that the U.S. pay-TV industry will lose another 6.2 million video subscribers in 2020, down slightly from the 6.4 million the analyst firm predicts will be lost in total this year. If that loss comes to bear it will represent a 6.7% rate of decline, ahead of 6.2% in 2019 and well ahead of 1.2% in 2018 when video subscriber losses totaled 1.2 million.
“We now expect industry losses to remain in the 6-7% per year range for the medium term, suggesting worsening trends in domestic core affiliate into next year,” said UBS analyst John Hodulik.