Netflix Drives More Canadians to Dump Cable, New Financial Results Reveal

Courtesy of Netflix

Latest financial results from cable giants show falling pay TV subscriber bases as consumers migrate to online video streamers.

Canada's biggest cable giants are shedding subscribers at a faster pace as they endure stepped-up competition from Netflix Canada and other online video streaming alternatives.

Calgary-based Shaw Communications, unveiling its year-end 2015 financial results on Thursday, reported losing 76,035 subscribers during the fourth quarter. That compares with Shaw losing 13,675 subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2014.

For the year to August 31, 2015, Shaw lost 193,740 subscribers, against a year-earlier loss of 50,291 customers, out of a total cable subscriber base at around 2.85 million Canadians. And rival Rogers Communications, reporting third quarter results on Thursday, said it shed another 31,000 cable TV subscribers, just up from 30,000 customers lost during the third quarter of 2014.

Canadian cable carriers are increasingly relying on TV subscriber rate increases and signing up more Internet and wireless phone customers to drive business growth. Rogers and Shaw also teamed up to launch Shomi, a domestic streaming service aiming to compete against dominant Netflix Canada.

The upstart streamers face an uphill battle. The CRTC, the country's TV regulator, on Thursday reported Netflix Canada subscription rates among 18 to 34 year olds rose from 29 percent in 2013 to 58 percent in 2014 in English-speaking Canada, and from 7 percent to 24 percent during the same period in French-speaking local markets.

Netflix Canada, which launched in late 2010, had 3.9 million subscribers at the end of 2014, up from a year-earlier 3 million. The CRTC also said that, while overall traditional TV viewing is virtually unchanged in Canada from 29.8 weekly viewing hours in 2011 to 29 hours in 2014, younger Canadians aged 18 to 34 currently spend 20 hours a week watching free TV.

That compares with Canadians aged 65 and over watching 42 hours a week.