Number of Streaming Subscribers in the US Surpasses Pay TV for the First Time


CTAThe percentage of free or paid streaming video subscribers in the United States (68 percent of the population) has caught up to the number of paid TV subscribers (67 percent) for the first time, according to new research from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). The study also found that the time consumers spend watching video content on TVs (51 percent in 2016, down 11 points since 2012) is now equalled by – within the sampling margin of error – time spent watching video content on all other consumer technology devices (49 percent) including laptops, tablets and smartphones.

“More and more consumers are embracing the freedom of connectivity – in this case, the anytime/anywhere access to video content,” said Steve Koenig, senior director of market research, CTA. “This is one of the driving trends of our time. Today’s advancement of technology delivers ‘content convenience’ that results in cultural changes such as binge watching, second screen behaviour, content recommendations and the screens consumers use to consume video. And we expect streaming subscribers to surpass paid TV services – and by a fair margin – in the next year or so.”

Video Consumption

Unsurprisingly, the study found that the growing diversity of content sources and consumer viewing devices helped raise consumers’ average video consumption. On average, the amount of video that consumers watch per week is increasing considerably – up 32 percent since 2001 (16.8 hours a week in 2016, from 12.7 hours in 2011) – or 3.2 hours a day.

When it comes to content discovery, consumers still learn about new content mainly through traditional methods such like TV advertising (56 percent), word-of-mouth (54 percent) and internet search (32 percent). However, roughly one in five said that nontraditional mediums such as streaming service recommendations (23 percent), social media (21 percent) or radio, TV or podcast host recommendations (16 percent) as content discovery sources.

4K Continues to Grow

4K Ultra HD TVs are among the tech industry’s fastest growing segments, in spite of the fact that the US has one of the largest ownership rates (96 percent of American households own TVs) and high density (2.8 TVs per household) according to other CTA projections, . Significantly outpacing the transition to high-definition television, CTA projects shipments of 4K UHD displays to reach 15 million units in 2017 (51 percent increase) and earn $14.6 billion in revenue (38 percent increase). Sales of all TVs are expected to reach $19 billion in revenue in 2017, on par with last year.


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