OTT By the Numbers

roku-3-2Lately I’ve been reading about how much OTT video services have grown and so I looked to see how big the phenomenon has become. What I found was that you get a different answer depending upon who is doing the counting and how you define OTT.

It’s easy to start with Netflix, which is clearly the largest provider of alternate programming. As a public company they publish their subscriber numbers every quarter and at June 30 of this year they had 29.8 million paid subscriptions in the US and had added 605,000 customers in the quarter. With approximately 134 million housing units in the country that’s a penetration rate of over 22%.

Parks Associates tracks the OTT industry and they recently released a list of the top 10 OTT companies, ranked by the number of paid subscribers. They say there are over 100 pay OTT services available in the US. The top 10 list is interesting and probably includes things that many people aren’t aware of or that don’t think of as OTT. The most recent top 10 list is as follows:

  1. Netflix
  2. Amazon Video
  3. Hulu
  4. MLB TV
  5. WWE Network
  6. HBO Now
  7. Crunchyroll
  8. NFL Game Pass
  9. The Blaze
  10. Sling TV

I think most people would have guessed the top 3. It’s interesting that 3 of the top 10 are sports networks. The subscriber numbers for baseball and football are very seasonal and move up and down the list depending upon the time of the year. Major League Baseball (MLB TV) just announced that starting next season they will only make their programming available to subscribers of a cable service, so they will fall off this list. Crunchyroll features Japanese anime, manga, and auto racing. The Blaze includes Glenn Beck and various other political shows. To show how low the threshold for getting on the list is, number 10 is now Sling TV that just started early this year and currently claims about 400,000 subscribers.

Using the above definition of OTT, Parks Associates reports that 58% of US broadband households have used at least one OTT video service in the past 30 days. They say that a little more than 25% have used two or more different OTT services.

But there are others counting OTT using a wider definition. For instance, the numbers jump way up if you include things like YouTube, which has more viewers than Netflix. The multiservice screen provider Clearleap reports that when counting services like YouTube 71% of households report using OTT services. This count differs from the Parks Associates count by also considering smartphone-only usage rather than only considering homes with a broadband connection.

There are a number of other surveys around also and each differs in defining what is included as OTT and also differ by the type of platform used to watch the content. So any time you see OTT statistics it’s important to dig a bit to understand just what and who is being counted.

One thing that all of the surveys agree on is that younger people view a lot more video than anybody else. Common Sense Media just reported that teens between 13 and 18 use an average of 9 hours per day of entertainment media. This would include not only OTT content, but normal TV, on-line games, social media, and sites like Vine which are not counted as OTT but which include video content. As a parent of a teen I would say that number sounds just about right.

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