Video subscriptions up 28% in 2019 with bigger growth seen in 2020


The number of global net subscriptions to streaming video services increased by 28% in 2019 as more users turned to OTT delivery for their video entertainment.

A new report said the net number of subscriptions increased by 55 million in 2019, to more than 403 million.

Consumers increased the number of services they subscribed to by more than 10% to 1.59 paid subscriptions from 1.44 in 2018, the report, from Digital TV Research found.

Gross subscriptions increased to 642 million, up 139 million from 2018.

US, China video subscriptions soar

Both the US and China have about 200 million subscribers each, accounting for nearly two-thirds (63%) of global subscriptions. The US market added 43 million subs in 2019, with China just behind it at 35 million.

The COVID-19 pandemic has likely accelerated that growth as users globally have increased consumption of streaming content.

Brightcove’s soon-to-be-released Q2 2020 Global Video Index found that consumption of news, sports and entertainment video was up 40% globally in the quarter, after a 23% increase in Q1.

Services like Netflix, Disney+ and NBCUniversal’s Peacock have seen big increases in the first half of the year. Netflix is up 26 million subscribers in the first half of the year, with Disney+ adding 28 million between February and May, and Peacock adding more than 10 million sign ups since launching in April.

An Ampere Analysis study estimates US households subscribe to 3.8 different video services. Households with younger children, meanwhile, have access to more than five different services, up from 3.5 a year ago.

The bottom line

It appears we remain a long way off from putting the COVID-19 pandemic boogeyman to bed; outbreaks continue to flare up across the world that make any timeline for resuming “life as usual” in question.

One of the biggest questions making the rounds is whether all of these SVOD gains will hold once our new normal is achieved.

Many subscriptions have been added as supplemental to the “Big Three” of Netflix. Amazon Prime and Hulu. Disney+ has made tremendous gains during the pandemic, HBO Max and Peacock have been less spectacular, but steady. And there are dozens, literally, of smaller general entertainment services and niche content providers that have seen strong growth.

COVID-19 has accelerated the growth of the SVOD space… but it’s not the only reason consumers are watching more video and signing up for more services.

Viewers are learning it’s just not that hard to create their own bundles and mini-bundles of content. And there’s value in it, too. Subscribing to Netflix and Amazon, for example, have access to more than 100,000 hours of content. In the US, that content mix costs about 20% of traditional TV.

We’ll likely see a dip in consumption from the biggest months – March and April — as the pandemic wanes. And we’ll also likely see an increase in churn among niche services.

But overall, I expect to see a net add in services and increased consumption Y/Y.

Consumes who adopt new technology rarely backslide to old tech, and this isn’t going to be any different.

Stay tuned – and stay well.

Jim O’Neill is Principal Analyst at Brightcove. You can follow him on Twitter @JimONeillMedia and on LinkedIn