Number of US streaming video viewers exceeds pay TV subscribers

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
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Content Consumption Milestone: Number of Streaming Video Viewers Now Equal To Paid TV Subscribers, Says CTA

ARLINGTON, VA — For the first time ever, the percentage of free or paid streaming video subscribers in the U.S. (68 percent) has caught up to the number of paid TV subscribers (67 percent), according to new research from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) ™. The new study, The Changing Landscape for Video and Content, also shows the time consumers spend watching video content on TVs (51 percent in 2016, down 11 points since 2012) is now equaled by – within the sampling margin of error – time spent watching video content on all other consumer technology devices (49 percent) including laptops, tablets and smartphones.

“More and more consumers are embracing the freedom of connectivity – in this case, the anytime/anywhere access to video content,” said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research, CTA. “This is one of the driving trends of our time. Today’s advancement of technology delivers ‘content convenience’ that results in cultural changes such as binge watching, second screen behavior, content recommendations and the screens consumers use to consume video. And we expect streaming subscribers to surpass paid TV services – and by a fair margin – in the next year or so.”

“Are You Still Watching?”

The growing diversity of content sources and consumer viewing devices helped raise consumers’ average video consumption. On average, the amount of video that consumers watch per week is increasing considerably – up 32 percent since 2001 (16.8 hours a week in 2016, from 12.7 hours in 2011) – or 3.2 hours a day.

“Because you watched…”

Most consumers still learn about new content through traditional methods such as commercials on TV (56 percent), word-of-mouth (54 percent) and internet search (32 percent). Yet roughly one in five cite nontraditional mediums such as streaming service recommendations (23 percent), social media (21 percent) or radio, TV or podcast host recommendations (16 percent) as content discovery sources.

Market Overview: TVs

Even with the largest ownership rates (96 percent of American households own TVs) and high density (2.8 TVs per household) according to other CTA projections, 4K Ultra HD TVs are among the tech industry’s fastest growing segments. Significantly outpacing the transition to high-definition television, CTA projects shipments of 4K UHD displays to reach 15 million units in 2017 (51 percent increase) and earn $14.6 billion in revenue (38 percent increase). Sales of all TVs are expected to reach $19 billion in revenue in 2017, on par with last year.

The Changing Landscape for Video and Content report was designed and formulated by CTA, the most comprehensive source of sales data, forecasts, consumer research and historical trends for the consumer technology industry. This research represents the findings of a two-part study. The quantitative survey was administered via Internet web form to an online national sample of 1,000 U.S. adults, between Oct. 21-28, 2016. The qualitative research study was created using responses from an online focus group with online consumers, between Oct. 25-27, 2016.