New data from Kagan illuminates the mounting flight from live linear TV in 2020, a years-long trend that accelerated during the pandemic. Traditional U.S. multichannel “plumbed new depths” in 2020 with a decline of nearly 7.2 million subscriptions, according to full market estimates from Kagan.
The report says virtual multichannel services, which provide multiple linear television channels as an OTT service, blunted the overall erosion of people taking a package of live linear channels. “But the estimated 2.7 million new subscribers for these services that increasingly resemble the traditional services being displaced fell short of offsetting cable, telco and satellite defections,” Kagan says in the report.
Losses for traditional cable, telco and satellite providers slowed in the fourth quarter. “But the full-year decline underscored that the impacts of the pandemic amplified cord cutting instead of insulating an industry built around home entertainment,” the report states.
Traditional subscriptions fell by 1.5 million in fourth quarter, which marked a slowing rate of decline. Yet the virtual segment failed to maintain its surprising momentum from the third quarter, tallying a tepid estimated gain of 223,000 to finish the year at nearly 12.5 million subscriptions.
“Americans continue to leave traditional video services in droves, with 6.8 million households cutting the cord in 2020,” said Kagan Senior Analyst Tony Lenoir.
In other key takeaways from Kagan’s full year 2020 report:
The combined penetration of traditional and virtual subscriptions, which accounts for the total households in the U.S. taking a package of live, linear channels, dropped below 67% at year end.
The percentage of households in the U.S. with a traditional multichannel subscription dropped to less than 57%.