The use of pay-television services in the United States has only declined marginally among those that have Netflix streaming, although the proportion of pay-television homes with Netflix has risen substantially. Perhaps this is because Netflix is more of a complement to rather than a substitute for pay television.
Recent research from TDG in the United States suggests that the use of pay-television among those that use Netflix streaming services has declined by three percentage points over three years, from 87% to 84%, which is within its survey margin of error.
Meanwhile, the use of Netflix streaming among pay-television users has increased by 33%, up from 26% in 2012 to 49% in 2015.
“So much for the hypothesis that Netflix use leads to the cancellation of legacy pay-TV services,” noted Nick Beyer, TDG analyst and author of the new study, Netflix Streamers — A Consumer Snapshot.
“Though Netflix isn’t driving cord cutting, it is nonetheless an incremental threat to premium TV services, in particular,” he writes. “Today’s Netflix streamer is significantly less likely to use value-added pay-TV services such PVR, premium sports, and pay-per-view than they were in 2012.”
Despite much industry talk about so-called ‘cord cutting’, the informitv Multiscreen Index suggests that pay television subscriptions have remained remarkably resilient in the United States. While some services have lost subscribers, others have gained.
The top ten pay-television services in the United States that report numbers gained subscribers overall in the first quarter of 2015. With 87.73 million television subscribers between them they actually have 1.3 million more than they did at the end of the first quarter in 2012.
The number of Netflix streaming subscriptions in the United States rose by over 18 million, from 22.02 million to 40.31 million over the same three-year period.
So why has this apparently had minimal negative effect on pay-television subscriptions? Perhaps because Netflix is not so much a substitute for pay television as a substitute for DVD rentals and purchases, which have declined significantly over this period. After all, Netflix was originally developed as a DVD rental business.
Netflix Streamers — A Consumer Snapshot is the first of a quarterly series of reports on the habits and preferences of video viewers in the United States. It is available from TDG Research.