Consumer adoption of streaming video services is surging, according to a new report by Juniper Research out this morning, which finds that subscriber numbers for services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video will grow from 92.1 million in 2014 to 333.2 million global subscriptions by 2019.
Connected TVs and streaming media devices like Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and Chromecast will be driving this adoption, as will connected game consoles and set-top boxes that provide streaming video as pre-loaded services.
What’s interesting here is that the research firm doesn’t believe that so-called “smart TVs” are as much of a contributing factor – meaning TVs where the manufacturer has baked in access to Netflix or other services as a feature of the TV set itself. In fact, Juniper notes that these smart TVs often offer “poor operating systems and user interfaces.”
In contrast, the newer streaming media devices are making watching over-the-top services more accessible on the big screen of the living room TV. They not only simplify the process of getting connected, but they’re also often sold at price points so low – Chromecast is $35 and the Fire TV Stick is $39, for example – that buying a streaming media stick is almost a no-brainer for many consumers.
Another advantage these streaming media devices have over smart TVs is that they’re able to work with older sets – basically turning “dumb” TVs into smart, connected devices. Given the long lifecycle of TV sets, this has enabled a number of consumers to get on board with streaming video and make it a part of their regular TV viewing behavior.
This shift in consumer interest in streaming media has not gone unnoticed by the traditional pay TV industry, either. A number of cable companies are now trying to attract potential cord cutters or those no longer interested in large and expensive cable TV packages with a range of new services. For example, Verizon recently introduced an a la carte programming package where consumers pick from various “bundles” like those that features kids or sports channels – even getting it into hot water with TV providers like ESPN and Fox Sports in the process.
Meanwhile, Cablevision similarly announced packages for cord cutters, which also include the option for over-the-top HBO. And Dish Network is running an Internet-based streaming TV service called Sling TV.
Juniper also says that the spike in consumer adoption of these streaming video services will be led by growth in North America, but will be closely followed by the Far East, as this region, too, will see new services and increasing consumer interest. That point follows on news from last week which stated that one of the largest video services, Netflix, was looking to expand into China by partnering with Chinese companies, including Wasu Media Holding, which is owned in part by Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma.
While Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video are subscription-based services that don’t show advertisements, those where ads are offered, like Hulu for instance but also new services in Asia and elsewhere, will also feel the impact of this subscriber growth. According to Juniper, ad spend on video-on-demand will grow almost fourfold by 2019, with the Far East and China dominating the market by the end of the forecast period.