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“No renaissance for traditional TV viewing” as global online video subscriptions take the lead

Total global subscriptions for online video services have reached 1.26B, surpassing global Pay TV subscribers (1.07B) for the first time, according to research by Omdia. The research and consultancy company has found that the number of households with only a Pay TV subscription was 17.5% at the end of 2021, down from the pre-pandemic figure of 33% as households “in their droves” add an online video subscription.

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Omdia – a research and consultancy company – declares that there is “no renaissance for traditional TV viewing”, despite the pandemic, and has revealed a new study which shows total global subscriptions for online video services (1.26B) have surpassed the equivalent figure for Pay TV services (1.07B) for the first time.

Based on ten countries – including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, the UK, and the U.S. – the study also shows that the number of Pay TV subscribers in households that only have a Pay TV subscription was 17.5% at the end of 2021, down from the pre-pandemic figure of 33%. By the end of 2021, 61.2% of online video or Pay TV subscriptions were in households whose residents had subscriptions to both, while before the pandemic this figure was only 50.9%. Omdia says these “incredibly swift changes” to Pay TV households have occurred as they – “in their droves” – have moved to subscribe to online video services.

Omdia also revealed that the number of homes not paying for a TV or video service is continuing to rise slowly. In 2015 there were 2.17B users in this category and Omdia forecasts this figure will reach 2.4B by 2025. The company says, “The stability shown by this segment indicates that much of the growth exhibited by online video comes from existing users taking more subscriptions, rather than huge numbers of new households moving from free to paid.”

Omdia suggests that the rise in popularity of free-to-view AVOD and FAST services is a possible explanation for the continued growth of the non-pay household segment of TV/video viewers, and expects these services to dampen demand for paid-for subscriptions.

Adam Thomas, Senior Principal Analyst at Omdia says, “Although the growth in online video subscriptions has been the most eye-catching recent trend, traditional TV viewing also saw a significant spike in viewing time – again driven by the greater number of people at home looking for viewing entertainment. This reversed a long-term trend of viewing time decline among traditional viewing formats and prompted some hopes of a sustained renewal of interest in traditional TV viewing.

“However, our analysis indicates that, after a spike, traditional TV has quickly returned to pre-Covid  viewing patterns, and this informs our assumption that online video will continue to thrive following its Covid boost, but there will be no renaissance for traditional TV viewing formats. However, traditional TV viewing will continue to form an important part of the viewing mix as we move toward a streaming-first future.”


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