Streaming video surpasses cable subscriptions

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) reported last week that the world’s entertainment market — encompassing both theatrical and home releases — grew to a new high of US$96.8 billion in 2018, which was 9 percent higher than in 2017. In particular, the MPAA highlighted the rapid growth of streaming video, which grew to 613 million subscriptions worldwide, an increase of 27 percent over 2017. International theatrical box office grew to $41.1 billion, while home entertainment hit $55.7 billion internationally. Specifically, “digital home entertainment was the driver of growth,” said the MPAA revealing that US digital sales grew by 24 percent, while international digital sales grew by 34 percent.

At the same time, physical releases dropped in the US and internationally by 15 and 14 percent, respectively. The report lumps together digital sales, Video-on-Demand, and paid subscription services, but it does not break down how those contribute to the larger picture. Either way, it is pretty clear that increasingly, more people around the world prefer to buy their entertainment from the internet, rather than buy a physical disc.

When it comes to streaming video, the MPAA reports that subscriptions surpassed cable television for the first time, with 131.2 million new subscriptions added in 2018 and taking the total worldwide to 613.3 million, a jump of 27 percent over 2017’s numbers. The report says that cable subscriptions dropped by 2 percent to 556 million. That said, despite that growth in streaming video and the small decrease in cable subscriptions, cable subscriptions still rake in the most money, increasing in 2018 by $6.2 billion to $118 billion. After cable subscriptions, satellite TV brings in the next highest amount of revenue, while streaming video comes in third.

The report also notes that more Americans watch cable (80 percent) followed by streaming services (70 percent). What the report does lay out, however, is that online streaming video is still growing, and TV programming takes up the lion’s share of what it calls views / transactions. In 2014, there were 71 billion TV views / transactions and 5.4 billion for movies. In 2018, that grew to 170.6 billion and 11.5 billion views / transactions for TV and film, respectively — a massive increase in just four years. Along with those increases, the report says that views have more programs to watch than ever before. The report notes that since 2014, scripted dramas across all channels have grown by 28 percent to 496 in 2018.

That number grew to 1,620 programs when daytime drama, children’s programming, and unscripted shows were included. When it comes to the theater industry, people spent more (but not by much) when compared to last year’s numbers ($40.5 billion), just a single percentage point to $41.1 billion. Interestingly, while spending in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa dropped, Asian markets grew, especially in China, which was the biggest market for film outside of the US and Canada.

It experienced a 12 percent jump in earnings. On the other hand, global market for 3D films dropped by 20 percent, falling below the rate in 2014. The continued rise of streaming video is not much of a surprise, as companies like Amazon, CBS, Hulu, and Netflix have grown in recent years to compete with traditional television networks. More than that, those figures seem as though they are sure to go even higher, given that newcomers like Apple, Disney, and NBCUniversal are all set to introduce their own streaming platforms in the coming months.