Premium Cable Subs Fall as Gap With Streaming Narrows (Study)

2:49 PM PST 01/20/2014 by Michael O'Connell
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UPDATED: The latest "State of SVOD" report from the NPD Group has U.S. households with HBO, Showtime and other pay channels down 6 percent between 2012 and 2013.

Streaming video continues to make gains on pay cable. The latest State of SVOD report from the NPD Group has premium channels like HBO, Showtime and others besting streamer subscriptions in U.S. households by just five percentage points.

The study, measuring subscription counts between August 2012 and 2013, saw households with premium cable subscriptions in the U.S. fall 6 percent over the course of the year. Though it saw a modest rebound last summer, the study has pay subscriptions in 32 percent of homes.

Streaming video, with Netflix still outpacing Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, grew by 4 percent. SVOD now has subscriptions in 27 percent of homes.

Netlfix's subscriber count is currently approaching 30 million customers in America. The streamer, riding a wave of good press for its foray into original programming, topped HBO for the first time in April 2013.

Still, there has been some growth. Showtime's subscriber count has climbed the last two years, most recently to 22.8 million.

"As SVOD services have gained momentum, it's clear that some consumers are trimming their premium-TV subscriptions," said NPD's senior vp industry analysis Russ Crupnick. "As SVOD increasingly strives to become a channel itself, viewers might consider it to be an adequate substitution for other premium channels, or perhaps they are switching to economize on their time and money spent."

Downsizing in pay cable, however, does not correlate to downsizing across the board. Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus are the fastest growers in the streaming business as many viewers add secondary SVOD to existing Netflix accounts.

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