Satellite TV subscriptions soar, cable penetration hits 16-year low

Direct broadcast satellite (DBS) delivery is now estimated at 24 percent, up from 20.2 percent in November 2005. At the same time, wired cable penetration fell from 64.8 percent to 62.1 percent — the last time wired cable was any lower was in November 1990.

The Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) released these statistics last week after an analysis of Nielsen Media Research data for November 2006.

According to the findings, more American households are receiving video programming via an alternate delivery system (ADS) than ever before, while MSOs lost 2.6 million subscribers and wired cable’s penetration percentage hit a 16-year low.

DBS is the largest component of ADS. According to Nielsen NTI data, national ADS penetration reached 24.5 percent in November 2006, up from 20.8 percent in November 2005, and now represents 28.5 percent of subscription TV customers (those paying for video delivery).

During the same period, the number of wired cable subscribers dropped to 68.4 million in November from 71 million a year earlier.