Kagan Projects Cable and Satellite HD Subscribers To Approach 94 Million By 2015

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The number of consumers buying High Definition (HD) television sets is rising at a much faster pace than the number of consumers subscribing to HD programs via their cable or satellite systems. But, according to Kagan Research, the proliferation of HD sets is setting the stage for a programming boom that will approach 94 million subscribers and surpass an 88% penetration in the next 10 years.

The number of satellite and cable subscribers who own at least one HDTV set, have an HD set-top box and are watching HD programming via an HD tier package or otherwise will rise from 1.4 mil. in 2003 to nearly 94 mil. by 2015, according to a new study by Kagan Research, the Monterey, California-based media business analyst firm.

Kagan separates satellite subscribers from cable subscribers in its 10-year projections for the number of HD households; defined as a household with one HD set. The new data utilizes current market share figures as well as data from exclusive sources.

Kagan Research notes there is a sizable gap between the number of HD sets purchased and the number of recipients of satellite and cable service electing to become HD subscribers.

As of the end of 2004, Kagan estimated 12.4 mil. in cumulative HD sets sold since 1998 (10.4 mil. in single set purchases). With only 3.7 mil. current HD subscribers between satellite and cable, there is a gap of 6.7 mil. Why? Confusion among consumers (i.e. they don't realize that they also need an HD STB to view HD programming, etc.) may be one reason, their respective cable operators do not as yet offer HD programming, or high digital-tier subscription costs may be a factor.

According to Patrick Johnson, Kagan research associate and principal contributor to “Digital Television," a Kagan monthly newsletter: “The adoption rate of HD sets has seen solid growth over the last few years and has in turn fueled the increase in the number of networks with HD programming. Between 1998 and year-end 2002, there were just six or seven networks offering HD programming (not including the broadcast networks) and today there are over twenty. We expect HD subscribers to grow at an annual rate of nearly 30% over the next decade and wouldn't be surprised to see the number of networks with HD programming grow substantially over the same time period.”

Other key findings of the Kagan study include:

  •     Total Cable and Satellite HD Subscribers will surpass 88% penetration by 2015.
  •     Cable subscribers make up a larger portion of the gap between the number of HD sets and HD subscribers.
  •     DBS will outpace Cable not in the number of HD subs or CAGR, but in the penetration level of total subscribers.
  •     Satellite and Cable have larger shares of the HD market than they do of the basic multichannel market.
  •     Not all DBS and Cable HD households subscribe to HD tiers-what percentages do?
  •     Satellite surpasses Cable in annual revenues from subscriptions to HD Tiers.
  •     What happens in 2010 when Satellite and Cable operators cease charging incremental fees for HD tiers and begin to bundle the programming within the cost of their programming packages.

Kagan has published its annual databook on the subject titled:

The State of High Definition Television 2005

315 pp / 53 Tables & Charts

For more information:


Featuring sections on:

  • Technical Primer
  • Timeline
  • TV Station Conversion History
  • Technical Issues
  • Regulatory Issues
  • Cable MSOs
  • DBS
  • Datacasting
  • Manufacturers
  • Programming
  • Consumers
  • Forecasts

About Kagan Research, LLC.

For over thirty-five years media and communications operators, content programmers and developers and investment advisors have relied on Kagan Research for expert intelligence, independent analysis and leadership in media business research from tech to finance. Kagan's consulting and publishing services offer exclusive financial data and analysis, relevant market advisories and accurate 5- to 10-year projections for TV, radio, cable, DBS, wireless, movie and sports sectors, as well as insightful perspectives on emerging media technologies, digital communications and advertising.

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Harvey Kraft