Market overviews 2015 — North America

Across North America there are 134 million TV households. 96% of TV households receive digital signals. The sole analogue platform in North America is cable. As both the USA and Canada have fully digitized their terrestrial platforms.

North America has a high rate of pay TV, with 84% of TV households in were subscribing to at least one pay TV service in 2014.

The largest TV distribution platform in North America is cable. at the end of 2014 there were 61 million TV households in the North American where the primary TV platform is cable. Around 6 million homes, were still receiving analogue TV signals at the end of 2014. Cable is also the largest pay TV platform in the region. USA has the majority of cable TV households with 54 million followed by Canada with 7 million. The largest cable pay TV operators in the region are: Comcast with around 22 million subscribers at the end of 2014 and Time Warner Cable with around 11 million subscribers during the same period. In Canada, the largest cable operator in 2014 is Rogers with 2 million subscribers.       

At the end of 2014, 37 million households were primary relying on satellite for their TV signal reception.  Satellite is primarily used for pay TV. At the end of 2014, the USA had 34 million satellite homes while Canada had 3 million. The largest satellite TV providers IN 2014 were the pay TV operators Direct TV (with 20 million subscribers) and Dish Networks (with 14 million subscribers). In Canada, the largest satellite operator in 2014 is Bell Satellite with 1.67 million subscribers.

Canada completed the switchover to digital terrestrial in July 2011. The switchover was relatively straightforward as the majority of TV households in North America do not use terrestrial television. In both countries DTT is a free platform.

IPTV is primarily offered as a bundled service.


USA Key facts – 2014

  • Population: 319.9 million
  • Households: 124.0 million
  • TV Households:  120 million
  • Pay TV Penetration: 97%
  • Broadband Penetration: 77%
  • Mobile Penetration: 114%

TV Ad Revenue: €50.2 billion


US — platform overview 2014
  Pay subs (‘000) Free subs (‘000) Platform digitization (%)
Terrestrial 0 19,407 100
Satellite 34,330 100 100
Cable 54,041 0 91
IPTV 12,677 0 100
Total 101,048 19,507 96

The USA is the largest pay TV market with revenues topping $86 billion in 2014.


FTA TV viewing in the US is dominated by the five major commercial networks, which together account for more than 90% of FTA TV viewing time of the average US household. PBS offers public service broadcasting. The five major commercial networks are: NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox Broadcasting Company and the CW Television Network.

All major US metropolitan areas are connected to a cable TV network. While the cable network in the US is extensive there is little overlap between operators, with service providers largely operating in non-competing areas.  Cable has not yet fully digitized in the US, with 9% of cable customers having an analogue connection at the end of 2014.

Satellite is predominantly a pay TV service in the US with less than 1% of satellite homes consuming FTA satellite.

The US shut off its analogue terrestrial TV signals in June 2009. To ensure a swift switchover process the US government implemented a subsidy program. The NTIA issued two coupons worth $40 for the purchase of DTT set-top boxes to each household.