The Current State of the Movie Streaming Industry: A Statistical Overview
Ever since the dawn of the internet and becoming a part and parcel of our daily lives, the culture of streaming audiovisual media has been on the rise and widespread. Streaming has managed to establish its existence in diverse entertainment arenas including TV, film and over the internet streaming. All this has been fueled by constant improvement in technology, usage and the fact that it is becoming less expensive. For that reason, the number of people that own a smartphone has continued to increase considerably each year. A smartphone and internet access is all one needs to access thousands of hours of streaming content. Taking this into account, according to Statista, it is estimated that around 85% of adults living in America have smartphone ownership as of 2018 with the age group 18-24 recording the highest penetration. This technically means that 85 percent of all adult Americans have streamed at one time or another.
So what is the current state of the movie streaming industry and what implications does it have on other sectors of entertainment? Read on.
Streaming movies vs Streaming TV shows
According to the 2018 MPAA report, among the online streaming platforms that provide video-on-demand services in the US, 44 percent of Americans use them to stream movies where else 35 percent use them to stream TV shows.
Movie streaming vs physical media
With movie streaming at its might and glory, one would conclude that people have moved on from buying physical media discs particularly the Blu-rays and standard DVDs. But this is not the case. Well, it might have done a major impact but there is still a considerable number of people who will opt to buy a disc rather than streaming. Buyers at the movie shop may not flock as much as they used to, although they still do. Major streaming services provide streaming video at 4K but that does not imply Blu-ray don’t. Blu-ray actually supports 4K as well as other features including HDR although some of these features will entirely depend on the Blu-ray player you have.
In a poll conducted on high def digest, the results revealed that only 4 percent of the participants have completely moved from physical media and just stream all the way. In a different poll conducted on AVSforum, the results showed that 30 percent of the participants prefer 4K UHD streaming over HD Blu-ray where else 40 percent of the participants prefer HD Blu-ray over 4K UHD streaming while 3.7 percent belonged to the population that has completely moved from buying any more discs. Some views from people that prefer physical media suggest that it is better to have tangible ownership rather than having it sit somewhere in the ‘cloud’. Furthermore, accessing will require the internet and the experience will depend on it as well (whether you get 4K or not).
With all these figures, the fact of the matter is, movie streaming is here, and the use of standard DVDs, as well as upscaled Blu-rays, is dwindling but a majority of the people still root for physical media. Besides, what would you result to when you have no internet and have no way of accessing your Netflix? It is prudent to mention that even as the number of people using physical media outweighs those that stream, this figure is decreasing fast as more companies join the streaming arena. According to a 2018 report by MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) viewing online video content had progressively increased into 2018 attaining a whopping 182 billion views. This is in the United States only. Among this figure, movie streaming had increased by 29 percent in 2018 compared to 2017. Streaming has not overtaken physical media but the writing is clear on the wall of what the future holds.
Free vs Paid
It is not quite clear the exact number of movie streaming services that are out there but if one was to guess, this number is in the thousands. A big proportion of internet users actually can’t afford paid streaming services. This has, in turn, led to an increase in the number of free movie streaming sites. There is also a vast assortment of free movie apps for Android. About half of these free movie streaming platforms are illegal and cause huge losses to the film industry each year. Using such sites demands caution as copyrighted content carries severe legal implications. If you must use such sites, it would be wise to use a trusted VPN. You can use a service like ExpressVPN.
Top players and market share
If you are talking about movie streaming, the undisputed player is Netflix although word has it that Netflix is losing subscribers and other services are starting to catch up to this giant. If it’s just streaming of any sort, YouTube takes it. Here is the order of top streaming players plus market share in the United States as of July 2018 – this is according to Statista:
- Netflix: 72.7 million
- Hulu: 55.6 million
- Amazon Prime Video: 20.7 million
- Redbox: 18.6 million
Movie streaming vs traditional pay TV
Cable and satellite television have been around for more than 50 years and currently, both of these players are facing a stern threat from streaming services. For example, more and more consumers are abandoning cable TV in what is called “cutting the cord”. According to the 2018 report by MPAA, the number of users in the US subscribed to various online video streaming sites had increased to 186.2 million in 2018 which is a 17 percent increase from 2017. On the other hand, subscriptions to various pay TV services had lowered. In fact, the number of OTT subscriptions has surpassed that of cable, satellite and IP TV. Note that users with more than one type of subscription have been included in these figures since many users have online subscriptions and pay TV at the same time.
Many users that switch to subscription-based streaming or just add to their existing cable subscription explain that cable TV is too expensive. This is the main reason for the migration. Furthermore, online movie/ TV streaming platforms give users more control over what they want and don’t want to watch. Even though online streaming services were shown to have the highest number of subscribers, cable TV emerged to have the highest revenue which was estimated at $55.4 billion (3 percent increase from 2017). Satellite TV came in second after cable TV then followed by online streaming subscriptions. Well, cable TV may be at the top in terms of revenue but it should be recognized that online video subscription revenues had increased by 39 percent from 2017 to an estimate of $20.6 billion.