Pay-TV to Reach 108.5 Million in 2012

The battle for pay-TV market share could come down to subscriber loyalty and a boost from the digital TV transition.

Earlier this month, SNL Kagan released a study that suggests the U.S. pay-TV market could see annual growth of 2.1 percent in total subscriptions, reaching 108.5 million in 2012. Pay-TV subscribers accounted for nearly 89 percent of TV households in a five-year outlook from the firm.

Helping to boost those numbers may be the nation's switch to digital TV in February 2009. SNL Kagan said the transition could increase multichannel subscriptions without generating a large-scale migration of customers. The firm "conservatively" estimated that 10 percent of over-the-air households will opt for pay-TV, with cable receiving the majority of converts and satellite and telco splitting the rest.

As for the individual platforms, SNL Kagan estimated that cable's market share will drop from the current 64 percent to 59 percent in 2012. Telco video could make the biggest strides, jumping from 3 percent to 9 percent during the same period.

And satellite TV providers may lose market share due to the unavailability of bundled voice/data packages and limits to on-demand delivery, the research firm said.