The number of online video subscriptions is forecast to grow from just under 1.5 billion in 2022 to pass 2 billion in 2027. Meanwhile, global pay television subscribers are forecast to fall slightly but remain above a billion. Pay television subscriber numbers are still growing in developing regions but are expected to fall further in mature markets.

Research from Omdia shows that the total number of online video subscriptions passed the number of pay-television homes in 2019, reaching 1.14 billion at the end of 2020, 1.34 billion at the end of 2021, and forecast to reach 1.48 billion by the end of 2022.

It should be noted that the numbers of online video and pay-television subscriptions are not directly comparable, as many homes will have more than one service but generally only one pay-television subscription.

While online video subscription numbers are growing just about everywhere, the picture for pay television is much more mixed, showing subscriber numbers in 55 countries growing, 41 declining and 5 staying static. Pay television subscriptions are forecast to rise by 6.3 million in Indonesia in the next five years, while they are expected to fall by 16.9 million in the United States.

“Online video services are continuing to experience impressive growth levels and there is a lot more to come,” said Omdia analyst Adam Thomas. “Disney+ has enjoyed an incredibly successful launch but there are several more attractive territories for it to enter over the next couple of years. And the same goes for Paramount+, Peacock and several others. The prospects for the alliance of HBO Max with Discovery+ also looks exciting. There are numerous reasons to be positive for online video’s prospects over the next few years which are reflected in our forecasts.”

With the pay television market plateauing, the television and video business is becoming increasingly reliant on growth from online video. With new services continually entering to market and major players still only part of the way through their respective global expansion efforts, the market will continue to expand for several years.

However, the analyst cautions that with online video businesses having been built on high content investment with low subscription prices, a price-sensitive public has come to expect a lot of bang for their buck. “It is quite clear that constant growth for online video is by no means guaranteed.”

The Pay TV and Online Video Report is available to subscribers of Omdia research from Informa.