Global online video subscriptions hit 613M in 2018, surpassing cable subscriptions

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In the U.S. alone, online video subscriptions totaled approximately 187 million in 2018. (Pixabay)

At the rate online video services are growing and pay TV services are shrinking, it was just a matter of time before streaming overtook cable. Turns out that time was 2018.

According to the MPAA’s theatrical and home entertainment market environment report for 2018, the number of subscriptions to online video services globally rose to 613.3 million, up 27% from 2017. The report said that was enough to push the total past the worldwide number of cable subscriptions (556 million).

In the U.S. alone, online video subscriptions totaled approximately 187 million in 2018, up 17% over 2017. Netflix is undoubtedly a big driver of online subscription video growth both in the U.S. and internationally. According to Netflix’s most recent financial report, the company ended 2018 with 139 million total paying members, up 9 million during the fourth quarter and up 29 million over the beginning of the year.


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While streaming and cable battled it out at the top, there was another changing of the guard elsewhere in the report. According to the report, IPTV services also passed up satellite television services in 2018.

That’s the good news for online video. The bad news is that cable still makes more money. According to the study, worldwide cable platforms generated $118 billion in revenue in 2018.

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MPAA’s report also looked at home entertainment trends across the U.S. and found that home entertainment consumer spending rose to $23.3 billion in 2018, enough to account for 66% of combined theatrical and home entertainment consumer spending. Digital home entertainment spending snagged the biggest share with 50%.

Online video content viewing in the U.S. also increased in 2018, climbing 24% to 182 billion views/transactions. Those figures are coming from the more than 140 online services offering TV shows and films in the U.S.

Overall, the study found that more than 80% of U.S. adults watch movies and TV shows through traditional television services, while 70% do the same thing through online subscription video services.

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