In the beginning, there was MASH. Its final episode got more than 105 million viewers worldwide. And one would think that the likes of Seinfeld would beat that record. Or Friends, right? But the world of TV entertainment proved us wrong. Nowadays, though, we have a different type of record to watch out for. Youtube and Netflix account for more than half of the downstream traffic of American people. Netflix on its own registers more than 2 billion hours of video streaming each 3 months. HBO’s season premiere of Game Of Thrones was downloaded for more than 1 million times in less than 24 hours on torrent sites. This is the new kind of breakthroughs that are being made as the world of by-appointment on-premise TV is giving way to online streaming services.
People in all age groups are going on the web or use online services much more to discover new content and, while cable is still big (over 70%) when it comes to video services, Netflix is catching up (more than 50%) and when combined with Hulu, Amazon or iTunes, on can see that online streaming services overall are surpassing cable as a first choice for video consumption.
Netflix is not only winning the battle with its own kindred (the likes of Hulu or Amazon Prime) but it is also challenging the pay-per-view giant HBO in all areas, be it subscribers, viewership numbers or social media fans. And this happens especially within the 18-34 age group which, judging by its always-online attitude and potential for high loyalty, can be a driving force of future TV entertainment. In households where there is a Netflix subscription, the usage of Live TV is decreasing while VoD streaming on mobile devices - tablets and smartphones, mainly but also game consoles - has increased by more than 10%.
More than that, even though it did not reach the size and spread of HBO, Netflix has a better rate of subscribers per country and also, a better performance in terms of average revenue. Moreover, Netflix is adding more foreign subscribers for each US subscriber now than a quarter ago and the pace has been like these for the last 6 quarters. And let’s not forget that Netflix already surpassed HBO in US in terms of local subscribers. With the recent announcements of European expansion as well as creating additional original series, it is only a question of whether Netflix can maintain the same performance rates as it expands and grows its subscribers’ base.
Nevertheless, VoD services as well as the major TV networks have to fight piracy. The Viewership To Downloads ratio has been steadily decreasing in the last three years (downloads increasing at a much faster pace than Viewership numbers). For shows such as Dexter or Homeland or even Breaking Bad, the downloads have been almost at the same level as the actual TV viewership while Game Of Thrones continues to be the most downloaded TV series three seasons in a row. How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory and Game Of Thrones were the three TV series that had the highest Downloads To Viewership ratio in the last three years.
There are a lot of battles to be decided by the BigData of viewership, subscribers, preferences or social media conversations for both TV networks and VoD services. And it seems that the latter have also discovered the secret ingredient to reach the level of major networks. If HBO is already setting new records at the Emmys or the Golden Globes with its original series such as Boardwalk Empire or Behind The Candelabra (with a whooping 11 awards at the 2013 Emmy Awards), Netflix is also catching up. House Of Cards has also won an Emmy Award. Along with Orange Is The New Black, the other successful original series from Netflix, it is challenging HBO and gathering armies of fans everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, you name it. And with all these, the following: viewership, subscriptions and more revenue to reinvest in its expansion.