15% of U.S. households have a DTC channel subscription

Thursday, March 21st, 2019
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Fifteen Percent of U.S. Households Have a Direct-to-Consumer Channel Subscription

  • Current Subscribers and Those Likely to Subscribe in the Next Year Cite Amazon Prime Channels as the One Way They are Most Likely to Sign Up, According to NPD

PORT WASHINGTON, NY — Consumers today have a variety of choices when determining how they want to access TV programing. As is the case in the broader retail landscape, growth in direct-to-consumer (DTC) channel subscriptions* is particularly notable. Driven by the influx of new services, faster in-home broadband speeds, and TV-connected device adoption, DTC channel adoption rates grew three-fold over the last three years to reach 15 percent of U.S. households, according to The NPD Group.

In 2019, NPD expects growing consumer interest and new service launches will push the DTC distribution channel market to continued growth. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 (87 percent) customers that are currently subscribers indicate that they are likely to add channels in the next year – but why and where will they choose to sign up?

While uptake of streaming video services are often linked to cord-cutting, subscribing directly to a channel as a means to replace cable ranks 16th out of the 20 reasons the new Direct-to-Consumer Video Online Study evaluated. Indeed, a majority of current subscribers, 66 percent, subscribe directly to channels in addition to their cable or satellite TV bundle. Affordability is driving adoption and that is the top reason cited for subscribing to à la carte TV channels, with the ability to subscribe only to the channels desired also among the top five reasons.

“In addition to what is driving adoption, it is imperative for players in this space to understand where consumers prefer to sign up. With the advent of the ‘Channels Model,’ consumers can now subscribe to only the channels they want and get the benefit of a single billing vendor and user interface,” said John Buffone, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence. “DTC channel aggregators such as Amazon, Roku, Hulu, Sling TV, and other potential market entrants, stand to gain a lot by garnering subscription revenue for managing DTC channel transactions.”

The growth in this market will come from both current subscribers adding channels and new subscribers entering the fold. Looking at the combined group of current and prospective subscribers with a positive likelihood to sign up in the next 12-months, the most likely destination for subscribing to DTC channels is Amazon Prime Channels (31 percent). The second most popular choice is to subscribe directly from the TV channel’s app (26 percent). Interestingly, prospective subscribers are even more likely than current subscribers to indicate they would use Amazon Prime Channels to sign-up.

* Direct-to-Consumer Video subscribers are defined as current subscribers to any à la carte TV channel that does not require a pay TV subscription from a cable or satellite TV provider. Excludes content aggregators such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.


The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Direct-to-Consumer Video Online Study is based on consumer panel research that reaches over 1,000 U.S. consumers, aged 18+ from diverse regions and demographical backgrounds. This survey was fielded from February 6 through February 11, 2019.