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In brief: In 2015 subscriptions to streaming platforms overtook satellite packages for the first time, and the inexorable rise of platforms like Netflix, Prime Video and Hulu has continued apace. New data from the Motion Picture Association of America shows that in 2018 streaming finally surpassed cable subscriptions to become the king of televisual consumption.
The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) puts out an annual report, the 'theatrical and home entertainment market environment', or 'THEME Report.' Among the many topics covered, there's an interesting section on in-home entertainment figures that illustrate how people worldwide are watching their favorite shows.
From 2017 to 2018 the number of subscriptions to online video services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu jumped by a massive 27%, increasing by 131.2 million subscriptions for a total of 613.3 million. While that jump is interesting by itself, the major achievement for the online giants is that they have toppled cable TV packages for the first time.
The MPAA report also offers some interesting context. The huge jump in online video subscriptions contrasts with a dip in the overall number of cable users. For the last four years, cable subscriptions have been consistently going down, as more and more people opt for 'cable-cutting'. In the period of 2017 to 2018, a 2% drop meant that be the end of the year cable packages totalled 556 million.
Interestingly, cable still saw an increase in revenues, growing by $6.2 billion to $118 billion. So even with fewer people being subscribed to cable packages, total revenues still jumped by almost 6%. Cable still manages to hold the top spot for revenues for now, but the MPAA report indicates that streaming platforms are catching up, as they fast approach the $100 billion mark.
One point should be noted - according to the MPAA, most people have both a cable service and an online subscription. But this news that streaming has overtaken cable will no doubt be good news for anyone who only uses streaming platforms. If studios know that there's a larger potential audience on Netflix or Amazon than there is on traditional cable channels, they have every incentive to make their best content available on those platforms.