Report: Streaming Services Surpass Cable TV in Popularity

Mike Wheatley

The number of subscriptions to video streaming services such as Netflix and HBO has overtaken that of cable TV subscriptions for the first time, according to new data from IHS Markit.


The analyst firm said in its annual MPAA report the streaming services market is accelerating rapidly, growing by 27% to 613.3 million subscriptions worldwide at the end of last year. Meanwhile, traditional markets such as cable TV and satellite are in decline.

“The number of subscriptions to online video services around the world increased to 613.3 million in 2018, a 27% increase from 2017, passing the number of cable subscriptions (556.0 million) for the first time,” IHS Markit said.

Streaming services are still a smaller segment than cable TV and satellite combined, though both of the latter markets saw their total number of subscribers decline in 2018. Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is another medium that’s also growing in popularity – in the last year, subscriptions for this type of service surpassed satellite subscriptions for the first time.

Cable TV still pulls in more revenue than other types of services, with satellite coming in second, and streaming remaining a distant third place. IHS Markit said the reason for this is that cable and satellite TV bundles still cost significantly more than streaming packages. In addition, many households continue to pay for their cable and satellite services even after signing up for a streaming service.

“Cable television remains the highest revenue platform globally with $118 billion in revenue in 2018,” IHS Markit said.

Still, if the trend continues as expected, it won’t be too long until streaming service revenues surpass those of pay TV. That’s all the more likely with big names such as Apple, Disney and Warner Media all announcing plans to launch their own streaming services later in the year.