450 million households worldwide receive their television through an antenna. That is around 1.6 billion people, although the number may be as high as 2.0 billion. While there is a lot of emphasis on the decline in television subscribers in the United States, television remains remarkably resilient globally and the continuing importance of terrestrial transmission has perhaps been underestimated, at least by some.

The numbers come from Deloitte. It says that to the best of its knowledge, no one has previously published global data on antenna television market size.

The estimate of 1.6 billion antenna television viewers in 2020 is based on verified data from 83 countries with a combined population of 6.6 billion people. This data was extrapolated for neighbouring countries to provide an estimate of 2.0 billion worldwide.

Of the verified territories, Indonesia, India, and Nigeria have the most antenna television viewers.

Indonesia alone has over a quarter of a billion viewers watching television through an antenna. Across Southeast Asia and Oceania there are 484 million viewers based on published numbers, with extrapolated data suggesting 13 million more.

The Indian subcontinent has 178 million terrestrial television viewers, with potentially another 54 million.

Europe, including all Russia, has 225 million, with similar numbers in Latin America and the Caribbean.

There are 244 million in Sub-Saharan Africa, although there could be more than 400 million.

The Middle East and North Africa has 80 million, and possibly another 21 million.

Even the United States has 41 million viewers watching terrestrial television in some 16 million homes.

Terrestrial television 2020. Source: Deloitte

Deloitte describes the resilience of terrestrial television as “a bright spot in the overall TV landscape”, with the television industry as a whole facing headwinds.

It forecasts that in the United States the number of television subscribers will decline by 5 million in 2020 to 84 million, while the average revenue per subscriber will remain flat.

Other countries are also seeing ongoing declines in television subscribers, including Brazil, Mexico, Canada, and Japan.

The growth in television viewers in the rest of the world more than offsets these declines, for now.

Globally, three-quarters of pay television operators worldwide are expected to gain subscriptions between 2018 and 2024, and two-thirds will see their revenues increase over that same period.

The number of television subscriptions worldwide is expected to rise by 8% between 2018 and 2024, reaching 1.1 billion in 2024.

The bad news is that global television industry revenues are forecast to decline by 11% in 2023 compared to 2019.

Deloitte concludes that television may not be growing at the rate it did 20 years ago, but neither is it collapsing, and both advertisers and broadcasters need to think of it in those terms.

TMT Predictions 2020 is published by Deloitte and available from its web site.