Study: OTT Revenue to Rise 35% in 2019

Convergence predicts traditional pay TV subs to dip 5% this year.
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VICTORIA, Canada—Over-the-top revenue rose 37% in 2018 to $16.3 billion and is on pace to grow another 35% to $22 billion in 2019, according to The Convergence Research Group's annual "The Battle for the American Couch Potato" reports.

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According to the Convergence reports, traditional pay TV subscribers will continue to decline—down and estimated 5% in 2019 from a 4% drop in 2018—average revenue per unit will increase. Convergence estimates that traditional pay TV ARPU will be three times that of its OTT counterparts by 2021.

Still, the downward trajectory of traditional pay TV distribution will affect revenue—Convergence estimates that 2018 U.S. Cable, Satellite, Telco TV access (not including OTT) revenue fell 3% to $103.4 billion and will decline at a similar rate this year.

“The TV-Movie Industry is being reconstructed from the inside and by the outside, as programmers now directly compete against their traditional TV access and independent OTT buyers that rival in terms of content spend,” Convergence said in the report.

Convergence estimates that U.S. TV subscribers declined by 4.01 million in 2018, up from a drop of 3.66 million in 2017. That pace is expected to quicken in 2018 to a loss of 4.56 million TV subs in 2019.

At the same time Convergence estimates that Broadcast & Cable TV Network Online advertising (increasingly driven by OTT) will represent 6.5% of 2019 U.S. TV advertising revenue.

According to the report, cord cutting started to rise in 2010, and Convergence estimated that as of 2018 30% of households did not have a traditional TV subscription, up from 26% in 2017. By the end of this year, the researcher predicts that 34% of households won’t have a traditional TV subscription.

Still, the researcher believes that the OTT space will continue to be dominated by a handful of players—mainly Netflix, Amazon and Hulu—who are expected to outlive streaming upstarts that will “fail due to insufficient subscriber traction, cost and competition.”

At the same time other programmers—like Disney and WarnerMedia—have taken content away from Netflix and brought it in-house for their own streaming services; Hulu continues to spend aggressively on content (outpacing even Netflix and Amazon on a per-sub basis, according to Convergence); CBS/Showtime’s has added streaming customers at a faster rate than expected; Discovery has forged relationships with Philo, Hulu, Sling and YouTube TV, and will be launching an OTT service with the BBC soon. NBC Universal has joined the streaming video club too, expected to launch an OTT service next year and Viacom has purchased Pluto TV & AwesomenessTV, and is producing for Amazon & Netflix.

While pay TV subscriptions continue to pace downward, broadband relationships are on the rise. The report estimated that 2.85 million broadband subscribers were added to the U.S. rolls in 2018, with revenue from the service up 7% to $61.6 billion. Convergence predicts similar growth metrics for 2019.

Cable will continue to attract the bulk of broadband customers, Convergence said.