There are a few ways to view the decline of the pay TV bundle. In our pay TV figures, we exclude vMVPDs, which deliver live TV over the internet. When viewed this way, pay TV will decline 7.2% this year to 66.4 million households. That figure will drop to 54.3 million households by the end of 2026.
In this analysis, non-pay TV households (which include cord-cutters and cord-nevers) will exceed pay TV households next year. And in 2026, non-pay TV households will outnumber pay TV households by more than 25 million households.
With these figures, pay TV households will still outnumber cord-cutter and cord-never households in 2022. But the future for pay TV subscriptions looks ominous.
Another way to view cord-cutting is to count vMVPD subscribers as pay TV subscribers. Although vMVPDs are streaming services, their channel lineups, business models, and subscription prices are pretty similar to cable packages. When viewed this way, cord-cutting is still chugging, but at a slower clip.
In this analysis, pay TV/vMVPD households will outnumber those that do not pay for these services by about 30 million in 2022. By the end of 2026, that gap will shrink to about 10 million households, but there will still be more pay TV/vMVPD households than non-pay TV/vMVPD households.
No matter how you cut it, traditional TV viewership is declining. But the way vMVPDs are classified can have a significant impact on how quickly that decline is happening. We forecast that vMVPD households will increase from 15.2 million to 18.4 million between 2022 and 2026.