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Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

Cable Network Distribution Trends: Nielsen reports the average channel loses 6.2% homes

Nielsen recently released the December 2019 Household Universe Estimates (UEs) for cable nets.

The full report is available from my valued colleague Byron Media’s Dr John Morse.


Comparing US Cable Network HH UEs for December 2018 vs. 2019:

  • Cord cutting continued.
    • The average network lost 3,591,000 homes year over year (-6.2%)
    • The wired cable universe was down 1,405,000 homes (-2.4%).
    • Satellite subscription was down 4,404,000 (-13.1%), a significant loss acceleration.
    • These declines were partially off-set by additional virtual MVPD carriage of 2,737,000 homes for the average network
    • (virtual MVPD refers to network programming delivered through the Internet including Sling, DirecTV Now, SONY PlayStation Vue, Hulu Live, YouTube TV, Fubo TV, and Philo).
  • The average linear network measured nationally by Nielsen is carried in 58,296,000 homes.
  • Food Network has the largest HH distribution: 87,812,000; TBS is 2nd with 87,480,000 homes.
  • TNT has the largest number of vMVPD homes: 6,630,000; HGTV is 2nd with 6,610,000.
  • Going against the broader trend, there were 7 nets that added more than 500,000 homes:
Dec. ’18Dec. ’19Y-O-YY-O-Y
NetworkUniv Est.Univ Est.‘(000)%
TENNIS CHANNEL56,04459,0232,9795%
ESN LIFESTYLES13,37914,6091,2309%
DISC. EN ESPANOL6,8797,9421,06315%


  • The report is based on Nielsen’s national 40,000 HH People Meter service (calculated the week before the beginning of the month).
  • The above UEs included both traditional MVPDs (multi-channel video programming distributors) and virtual MVPDs (additional carriage homes from Broadcast Only, Broadband Only as well as Traditional Cable HHs that do not already receive the network through their existing provider).
  • The total US TV Household universe is now 120.6 Million.
  • It includes over 6 Million vMVPD homes.
  • This is growing fast (generally 200,000+ per month).