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Traditional TV Providers Offer OTT Packages to Head Off Subscriber Freeze

About This Report
According to our latest forecast, a record number of US consumers will have pulled the plug on pay TV by the end of this year. In order to slow the viewer exodus, traditional TV providers are teaming up with an unlikely partner: OTT services.

Executive Summary

Winter is coming for pay TV in the US. As over-the-top (OTT) video services continue to attract viewers with high-quality, original content, traditional TV providers have to find new ways to retain customers. Many have now partnered with once-rival Netflix in an effort to stop—or at least slow—the viewer exodus. We have raised our forecast for US subscription over-the-top (OTT) video service viewers, based on new data that shows stronger-than-expected adoption of every platform we track, including Netflix, Amazon Video and Hulu. The latest forecast also includes our first-ever estimates for HBO Now viewers. This forecast accelerates the rate of decline for US pay TV viewers, based mainly on reported subscriber numbers from major pay TV providers.

How many U.S. consumers use over-the-top (OTT) services and what is the forecast for 2022?

In 2018, we expect more than half (51.7%) of the US population to view content on a subscription OTT service at least once per month. That equates to 170.1 million people. By 2022, users are expected to increase to 197.7 million.

How many US cord-cutters are there in 2018 and what is the forecast through 2022?

The number of cord-cutters in the US – adults who have ever cancelled a pay TV service and continue without it – will rise to 33.0 million in 2018, a 32.8% increase. That’s a significantly higher growth rate than our July 2017 forecast of 22.0%. By the end of 2022, more than one-fifth of the US population, or 55.1 million people, will no longer watch traditional pay TV.

Why are consumers using OTT services?

Viewers are increasingly choosing their TV services based on the programming they offer, and traditional TV networks are struggling to compete with the quality of original content from OTT platforms. The rising popularity of linear OTT services, like SlingTV, could make it more difficult for traditional pay TV providers to retain customers, as they often offer digital access to their programming at a lower cost.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report includes our forecasts for US pay TV and subscription over-the-top (OTT) video service users. It also includes our first-ever estimates for HBO Now, Sling TV, linear OTT and over-the-air TV viewers. The projections, which run through 2022, include breakouts by platform. Our data on US pay TV and OTT video viewers, as well as our data on connected TV and smart TV viewers, can be found in this report’s accompanying Excel spreadsheet.


Jasmine Enberg


Chris Bendtsen
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Eric Haggstrom
Forecasting Analyst