Online Video Subscribers Outnumber Cable Subs for First Time

Illustration by: Paweł Jońca

Americans now spend 52 percent of their media time on a digital platform, the MPAA said.

The number of global subscriptions to online video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime surpassed cable TV for the first time in 2018, according to data released Thursday by the MPAA.

Worldwide, the streaming services added 131.2 million new subscribers for a total of 613.3 million. Comparatively, cable subscriptions fell 2 percent to 556 million.

Despite the larger number of subscribers, cable remains the highest revenue generator in worldwide video, followed by satellite TV then streaming, with digital terrestrial television and Internet protocol TV bringing up the rear.

Also, the MPAA said sales of DVDs and Blu-ray discs plummeted 15 percent in the U.S. in 2018 while streaming soared 24 percent, leading to a 12 percent gain in total home video revenue to $23.3 billion domestically.

Americans now spend 52 percent of their media time on a digital platform, the MPAA said.

Globally, home entertainment revenue grew by 16 percent in 2018 to $55.7 billion, with physical discs making up just $13.1 billion of the total.

Due to the tremendous growth in streaming, home entertainment has been surging for four years even though rentals and sales of discs have been quickly falling.

Globally, home entertainment revenue was at $39.1 billion in 2015; $43 billion in 2016; $48.1 billion in 2017; and $55.7 billion in 2018.

The MPAA also disclosed that the top-selling movie on DVD and Blu-ray disc in the U.S. was Black Panther in 2018, followed by The Greatest Showman, Star Wars Episode VII: The Last Jedi, Coco and Avengers: Infinity War.

Online viewing of TV shows in the U.S. surged to 170.6 billion views in 2018 from 138.3 billion in 2017, while movies grew to 11.5 billion views from 8.9 billion a year earlier. The full report can be viewed here.