There will be two million more television homes in the United States this season than a year previously, which is an increase of 1.7%. Nielsen estimates that there will 118.4 million television homes in the 2016-17 season. Three quarters of them subscribe to one of the top 10 pay-television service providers in the United States as reported by the informitv Multiscreen Index.

There are 301.7 million people aged over two years in television households in the United States, which is an increase of 1.6% from the previous year.

Nielsen uses data from the Census Bureau together with its own national television People Meter panel recruitment, to arrive at Advance TV Universe Estimates in early May. It then distributes final Universe Estimates before the start of each television season.

The 2017 National Universe Estimates reflect real changes in population since last year and updated television penetration levels.

96% of homes in the United States have at least one television capable of delivering video from a broadcast, cable, satellite, telco or broadband connection, which is an increase of 0.8% from the previous year and about the same proportion as in 2014.

The top 10 pay-television services in the United States in the informitv Multiscreen Index account for 88.96 million homes, or 75% of television homes in the United States. Other services account for 10% of television homes, with broadcast or broadband only television homes making up the remaining 15%.


A report commissioned by Nagra observes that the United States accounts for just under half of global pay-television revenues. In a mature market, high levels of pay-TV penetration, limited competition in some areas and high prices have made it susceptible to disruption from low-cost online services.

“Innovation should be the number one priority for the pay-TV industry in the USA as we’re in the ‘innovate or die’ stage of the cycle,” commented one industry executive in the report. “For a long time, the pay-TV industry enjoyed a golden age, in terms of its business model, being able to collect huge subscription revenues for big premium channel bundles. But this model is now under attack, subscriber numbers are going down and premium TV margins are being squeezed. Pay-TV providers need to innovate fast.”

Service providers also need to look beyond the number of subscribing households. “Ten years ago the subscriber of a pay-TV product was the family household. Today, the picture is very different – there might be five members of that household, each of them looking for different content,” another executive noted. “The ‘one subscription fits all’ model does not work anymore. We are now switching our focus to building an ecosystem of products and services that appeals to each member of the household.”

The Multiscreen Index is published by informitv. The Pay-TV Innovation Landscape in North America is available from NAGRA.