February 14, 2010

Percent of Households with Cable and Satellite Television

91% of American households have some form of subscription television service.  Traditional cable companies have been gradually losing market share over the past 15 years.   The satellite TV companies (Dish Network & DirectTV) have taken larger and larger chunk of the market.   The TV Basics website has data on 'alternate delivery systems' which includes % of households that have DBS or Direct Broadcast Satellite or traditional cable.

Using the data from the TV Basics site I made a graph showing the % of total households with No pay TV, Cable service, Satellite TV or other forms of pay TV (big satellites or other misc. systems):

As you can see over the years more and more American households have had some form of pay TV.  In 1996 only 73% of homes had pay TV but by late 2009 that had risen to 91%.   Cable used to have the overwhelming bulk of the pay TV market.  In 1996 cable had 93% of the pay market but by 2009 their share had shrunk to 67%.

I would assume that a large part of the increased penetration of pay services is due to rural subscribers signing up for satellite TV.   People in rural areas could not get cable due to cables limited penetration.   So the increased % of households with pay service may be at least partially a reflection of rural viewers having access to a pay service for the first time with the advent of the satellite services.

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