Cutting the Cord: Consumers Continue to Move to Streaming Services
Are you considering cutting the cord for television content needs? You are not alone. According to eMarketer, traditional pay-TV (cable, satellite, and telco TV operators) will decline to 72.7 million American subscribers by 2023. This compares with 100.5 million subscribers in 2015 as higher prices and greater competitive pressure from streaming services have consumers re-evaluating their options.
According to eMarketer, Americans on an average day will spend more time on TV streaming than all major social media platforms combined. With so many ways to watch video content, consumers are canceling their pay-TV service with no regrets. Here are several streaming services vying for market share in this burgeoning sector.
Many consumers have a love-hate relationship with Netflix Inc. (Tii:NFLX) as a platform. While the streaming service boasts thousands of movies and TV shows, the trick is to watch your favorites before licenses expire, and the company has to remove the show from service. With 208 million subscribers around the globe, Netflix is considered the top streaming company in the world. However, the streaming giant fell 2 million subscribers short of its goal of 210 million subscribers disclosed in the company’s first-quarter 2021 earnings report. With fan-favorite series like The Witcher, Stranger Things and Bridgerton returning with new episodes and a robust pipeline of content, Netflix remains the gold standard in the industry.
Amazon.com, Inc. (Tii:AMZN) is near the top of the pack when it comes to capturing subscribers’ attention. Out for over ten years, its Amazon Prime video service touts 175 million subscribers worldwide. The company gained momentum in the streaming wars as the pandemic forced consumers indoors and hungry for entertainment options. In a potentially game-changing move, Amazon scored exclusive rights to stream Thursday Night Football for the next 11 years – marking the first time a streaming service has had the full rights to an NFL package. This first-ever all-digital package will start for the 2022 football season, complementing Amazon’s lineup that includes hits The Expanse, Sneaky Pete, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Man in the High Castle.
Though not a streaming pure-play, The Walt Disney Company (Tii:DIS) racked up more than 100 million subscribers for its Disney+ streaming service in less than 18 months from its launch. This makes the platform the main competitor to industry leaders like Amazon and Netflix. With massive original hits like the Mandalorian, WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Disney+ successfully complements its vast library of popular content, which includes the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars franchise, Disney, and Pixar libraries.
Streaming services are duking it out, trying to pull more consumers into their subscription packages. Roku, Inc. (Tii:ROKU) is a major player, going head-to-head against Amazon’s own streaming platform. As of January 2021, CNET reports that Roku had 51.2 million active subscribers for the quarter that ended in December 2020, increasing 14 million for the year. The company reported a solid first quarter, with total net revenue rising 79% to $574.2 million and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) growing to $32.14, up 32% year-over-year. Roku projects streaming hours per account to continue to rise in 2021.
One of the pioneers in digital video recorders (DVRs), TiVo was the first service to suggest programs based on household viewing habits. Advances in set-top box technology allowing cable operators to offer competing DVRs that also could pause, rewind and record TV led to stagnant revenues and profits for TiVo. Acquired in 2020 by Xperi Holding Corporation (Tii:XPER) in an approximate $3 billion deal, TiVo is now looking to regain its relevance in the streaming game. In 2020, the company unveiled the TiVo Stream 4K, a streamer with live TV and Cloud DVR from the Sling TV app, also announcing new content partners to expand its video network. In its most recent quarterly earnings report, Xperi stated that demand for the TiVo IPTV video service continued to grow, with deployments increasing nearly 100% quarter over quarter.
Sling Media, a subsidiary of DISH Network Corporation (Tii:DISH), has been trying to gain ground against the larger companies. A recent deal with Verizon Communications Inc. (Tii:VZ) may help with that goal. Verizon recently reached a deal with Sling TV to offer its wireless and broadband subscribers access to live TV. In the deal, new and existing Verizon customers with a wireless, Fios or 5G Home account can get two free months of Sling TV, but only if they’re new to Sling TV. Agreements such as this will help the streaming service recoup some of the 94,000 subscribers it lost in 2019. Sling TV had 2.47 million subscriptions at the end of 2020.
Expect competition to heat up further as more consumers cut the cord and leave traditional broadcast, cable and satellite TV and jump into the stream.