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Pay TV Subscriptions Down, Streaming Could Be Part of the Reason

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While it's not a mass migration, subscriptions to pay TV services are clearly down. According to Leichtman Research Group, 82 percent of all U.S. households with TV subscribe to a pay TV service. This is down from 87 percent in 2011.

Among that same group, slightly over half—52 percent—subscribe to both a pay TV service and a subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) service, while 11 percent get an SVOD with no pay TV service.

"Streaming provides consumers with expanded viewing choice and, to some degree, competition—but more in terms of viewing time than as a direct alternative to pay TV offerings," says Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst with Leichtman Research Group. "Subscription video on-demand services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu are generally additive to pay TV subscriptions than solely alternatives."

The main reasons people choose not to subscribe to a pay TV service are expense and lack of use, Leichtman notes. However, the growing number of SVODs let non-subscribers cobble together a viewing experience that likely also includes over-the-air broadcast signals.

Streaming skinny bundles, such as SlingTV and PlayStation Vue, are an emerging force, but currently represent under one percent of all pay TV subscriptions.

The data comes from Leichtman Research's study Cable, DBS & Telcos: Competing for Customers 2016 (available for purchase).

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