July 22, 2012

What Percent of Homes have Cable, Satellite, Fiber or Antennea only?

Used to be that there were only 2 options for TV.  You could use the bunny ears antennae or you could pay for cable TV service.    Many markets now have multiple choices for pay TV.    I could get cable from Comcat, fiber from the phone company or satellite service from DISH or DirectTV.  Since the Satellite companies came around they have steadily eaten into the market of the cable companies.   The phone companies have also gradually been gaining customers.  Today the cable companies are holding onto a slim majority of the market.

I found the data from this 2011 article by the Consumer Electronics Association.   Their data is from 2010 but this is the latest source that I could find with the breakdown.


Cable means a traditional cable TV service which has a copper wire that comes to your home.  Satellite is either DISH or DirectTV service via the small satellite dish on your roof.   Fiber service is the fiberoptic service from a telephone company like Verizon or AT&T.   The figure for antenna is the houses that only have antenna.   

My father and uncle are in that small minority since they don't watch much TV and/or they are both cheapskates.    As far as I can think, everyone else I know has some form of pay TV service.  One of my friends only has cable TV because having the 'basic' service makes his internet service via Comcast cheaper or maybe it was that he got the cheap TV package essentially for free if he had Internet with them.  

If you do the math you'll find that those numbers add up to 103%.   Thats because apparently a few households have multiple pay TV services.  I would guess some of the people with more than one pay service do so to get programming only available on certain providers.   Other people may have unusual circumstances that warrant more than one pay service, like for example they may have signed up for minimum cable TV service just to get a good price on internet via cable plus satellite service for their television.   But thats just guesswork, I don't really know why people would have multiple services.

The CEA report also has data going back year by year from 2005 to 2010.   Whats interesting to see is how the market has changed in just 5 years.



2005 2010 Diff
Cable 62% 53% -9%
Satellite 24% 32% 8%
Fiber 0% 10% 10%
Antenna 13% 8% -5%

The telephone companies have grabbed 10% in just a few years.   Satellite has gained almost as much.  Cable has lost a similar chunk of the market. Interestingly fewer people in '10 had antenna only service compared to '05.  My suspicion may be that was partially due to the digital transition that happened which made some peoples old non-digital TVs obsolete and might have spurred them into getting a pay service.  But thats just a guess.

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2 comments:

  1. I also fall under a pricing quirk that makes it cheaper to bundle a basic cable package with my internet than it would be to get just the internet. It saves us $3 per month (and more for the first 12 months due to promotional pricing).

    TV is enough of a time sink as it is; up until this year my wife and I lived a decade with no cable service. Before the digital signal conversion, we didn't have any TV signal at all. We did still have a TV which we used (and still use) to watch movies.

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  2. SteveD: I wonder why the cable companies set it up so that you can get TV + internet for cheaper than just Internet? I assume its more of a marketing thing. You might be more inclined to get your internet from the cable company than the phone company if they throw in free basic TV. I'm sure it doesn't cost the cable company anything to turn on limited basic cable. Those are usually just the free channels. Maybe having access to the basic TV package ends up enticing some customers to sign up for more channels or use the PPV features.

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