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Streaming Video Subs Top One Billion for First Time

Likely driven by the stat-at-home, play-at-home pandemic, global online video service subscriptions topped one bill for the first time, according to a new report from the Motion Picture Association (MPA), which many of its motion pictures having to move to small-screen, over-the-top, debuts last year.


(Image credit: MPA)

But traditional cable TV remains the biggest video market worldwide.

According to the MPA's THEME 2020 Report, online video subscriptions reached 1.1 billion globally, up 26% year over year.

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Global revenue was $68.8 billion in U.S. dollars, up 23% over 2019.

In the U.S., there were 308.6 million online video subs, up 32% from 2019, and market for home and mobile subs was up 21% to $30 billion.

But cable TV remains the highest revenue pay TV market globally representing $116 billion in 2020.

And while the amount of time spent watching TV in 2020 increased by seven minutes to three hours, 34 minutes per day, the increase in time spent watching subscription over-the-top video was up a whopping 34% to 71.8 minutes, the first time it has topped an hour.


(Image credit: MPA)

The boom in digital subs only partially offset the plunge in box office from COVID-19-shuttered theaters. The global market for both theatrical and home/mobile entertainment distribution was $80.8 billion, down 18% from 2019.

“Despite the challenges to the global economy brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the film television, and streaming industry has once again risen to the occasion,” said MPA chairman Charles Rivkin. “Streaming experienced another huge boom. Theatrical and home entertainment remain two essential parts of this dynamic and iconic industry, and I am confident that movie theaters will experience a great comeback in the months ahead.”

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Other key findings from the report:

1. "During the pandemic period of 2020, 55 percent of U.S. adults reported that their viewing of movies or shows/series through an online subscription service increased, while 46 percent reported that their viewing via pay TV increased.

2. "More than 85 percent of children and more than 55 percent of adults watch movies or shows/series on mobile devices.

3. "Daily viewers of movies or shows/series on mobile devices skew more heavily towards the 18-24 and 25-39 year-old age groups, as well as the Hispanic/Latino and African-American/Black ethnicity groups."

For the survey, MPA commissioned ENGINE to conduct an online poll of a representative sample of 8,072 U.S. adults 18 and older Jan. 4-24, 2021.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.