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OTT Services Flirt With Saturation: eMarketer

U.S. broadband users continue to gravitate to OTT services, threatening to saturate the market, but there’s still room to grow for several players in the sector, eMarketer found in a new forecast -- Q4 2015 State of Video: Monetization, Audience, Platforms and Content.

Led by usage of YouTube, about 72.1% of U.S. Internet subs, or 199.6 million of them, will tap into OTT video services by 2019, up from 69.7%/181 million at the end of 2015, the firm predicts.

In the bigger picture view, eMarketer believes there will be 187.8 million YouTube users in the U.S. by 2019, up from 170.7 million at the end of 2014. Likewise, the firm predicts there will be 143.0 million Netflix users in the U.S. by 2019, up from 114.3 million in 2015. By 2019, there will be 88.6 Amazon OTT users (versus 65.2 million this year), and 82.2 million Hulu users (up from 59.9 million in 2015).

Among that group, Hulu’s expected to see the greatest user growth (4.3%) by 2019, followed by Amazon (4.1%), Netflix (2.6%) and YouTube (1.6%).  By  2019, YouTube will maintain its lead from a user penetration standpoint (94.1%), ahead of Netflix (71.7%), Amazon (44.4%), and Hulu (41.2%).

“There is little if any room for YouTube to grow beyond this near saturation, but other leading services will undergo significant growth over the next several years,” eMarketer noted. The expected growth rate of other services, “indicate that US OTT usage is on a sharp growth trajectory, even factoring out YouTube.”

Among other predictions, eMarketer said 89.3% of U.S. digital viewers will watch video via OTT, up from 88.6% in 205.

And while game consoles will lead the connected TV category over smart TVs and Blu-ray players this year, their share will continue to erode, with streaming sticks – led by Google’s Chromecast – becoming the second-most pervasive connected TV device, eMarketer said.