Streaming subscriptions surpassed cable TV last year

23 Apr 2019 | Rasmus Larsen |

Subscriptions to streaming services (613.3 million) such as HBO and Netflix surpassed cable TV subscriptions (556 million) for the first time in 2018, according to IHS Markit.

Streaming has overtaken cable

The market for streaming services is growing briskly, while the traditional cable and satellite TV segments are fading. 2018 was a milestone for streaming services in a global perspective, according to data from IHS Markit highlighted in the annual MPAA report.

- ”The number of subscriptions to online video services around the world increased to 613.3 million in 2018, a 27 percent increase from 2017, passing the number of cable subscriptions (556.0 millions) for the first time,” said MPAA.

If you combine cable, satellite, IPTV, and DTT, "old TV" is still bigger, though. Some households also have more than one streaming subscription. IPTV is growing in popularity, while the other segments are either flat or in decline. Last year, cable subscriptions - the biggest segment - decreased 2%.

 Global streaming and pay TV

Higher revenue from cable TV

Cable TV remains the highest revenue video platform globally, following by satellite TV. The streaming segment is a distant third.

- “Cable television remains the highest revenue platform globally with $118 billion in revenue in 2018,” MPAA added.

 Global streaming and pay TV

That discrepancy can be attributed to the fact that households typically pay significantly more for their cable or satellite TV bundle than for their streaming services. Many household also opt to hold on to their pay TV subscription, despite signing up for streaming services.

If the trend continues, streaming services will eventually top pay TV. Since 2014, the number of streaming subscriptions has more than quadrupled from around 150 million globally to 613.3 million in 2018, according to IHS Markit. Later this year, Apple, Disney, and WarnerMedia will launch new streaming services.

- Source: MPAA, IHS Markit

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