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The battle between pay TV and streaming services isn't even a battle, really, since online streaming's growth has been almost as unstoppable as the exodus of people leaving cable and satellite services behind. And while exact numbers are almost impossible to ascertain when it comes to how much money U.S. consumers are spending on the bevy of streaming services out there, one study is putting that estimated total at around $2.1 billion per month.
On the one hand, "$2.1 billion a month" is a whole lot of money to be thrown around for any particular goods, regardless of what they are or how many people are footing the bills. We do value our entertainment quite highly here in the U.S., so that total is only impressively surprising for a short time, but it's still mind-boggling in some ways to think about over $24 billion a year getting spent not just on watching TV shows and movies in general, but specifically on watching TV and movies through streaming services. Then again, when we consider that Netflix alone is spending $7-8 billion on content a year, that monthly $2.1 billion total doesn't seem quite as mountainous.
That total comes from the 2018 Digital Media Trends Survey from research group Deloitte (via Variety), which was in part based on the Census Bureau's 2017 estimates of 126 million households, and in part based on the average U.S. video streamer subscribing to three different services. (Those will generally be Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, though the number of combinations is becoming more endless with new services popping up monthly.) This is an average, of course, so obviously some cord-cutters will end up paying for more than just three services, while some people will never need any additional streaming programming outside of Netflix's library. And when one takes password-sharing practices into account, the totals could definitely get skewed. But for the most part, $2.1 billion is as close as we'll probably get outside of a more extensive overview.
Luckily for all those streaming services, the money that people pour into streaming TV is only going to get higher and higher each year, even without considering the occasional pay hikes. Deloitte's survey polled over 2,000 people in November 2017, and quite a few interesting percentages were learned. The survey found that around 48% of U.S. consumers are doing daily streaming, and the balance of live-TV-to-streaming viewing differs by age groups, with younger generations expectedly going heavier on the online content. (The results were all higher than they were in previous surveys, and binge-watching in general continues to be on the rise.) Deloitte's survey also found an 11% drop in pay TV subscriptions (down 63% from 74%), with the majority of people still saying price is the biggest factor when cancelling cable.
As evidenced, just about everything in the survey points to the scales tipping toward streaming more and more for the foreseeable future. And that's almost what needs to happen for all these companies, since their complicated financial situations tend to hinge on future growth making current debts easier to swallow. As always, we've got our popcorn in hand, waiting to see where things go next.