While stay-at-home orders and lockdowns have been a boon for streaming services worldwide this year, paid television’s slide has only accelerated with a record number of U.S. households canceling their TV subscriptions amid the pandemic, research from digital analysis firm eMarketer shows.
By the end of 2020, 6.6 million fewer American homes will have cable, satellite or telecom TV packages than they did on New Year’s Day—down 7.5 percent year-over-year. This year’s decline marks the largest-ever drop in paid TV users since the medium’s popularity peaked in 2014.
“Consumers are choosing to cut the cord because of high prices, especially compared with streaming alternatives,” says Eric Haggstrom, a forecasting analyst at eMarketer’s Insider Intelligence, who notes that the loss of live sports in the first half of the year likely exacerbated the decline. “While sports have returned, people will not return to their old cable or satellite plans,” he says.
Overall, 77.6 million households will still be paying for a television service by the end of 2020—a number that’s down 22.8 percent in the past six years.