Streaming Service Subscriptions Surpass One Billion Across The World

Here's the least surprising bit of streaming news: for the first time ever, streaming service subscriptions surpassed the one billion mark worldwide. In a year where roughly half a dozen new streaming platforms launched (and maybe even more, because there's just too many), streaming platforms skyrocketed in popularity, per a new study.

A new study conducted by the Motion Picture Association (via Variety) — from its annual theme report conducted to analyze the yearly performance of film, TV, and streaming — found that subscriptions to streaming services reached 1.1 billion globally for the first time ever. In the U.S., subscriptions reached 308.6 million, representing a 32% increase from 2019.

None of this should be very surprising given the influx of streaming platforms and worldwide lockdowns that kept people indoors and starved for entertainment. Per the MPA's study, 55% of U.S. adults reported that their viewing of movies and TV shows through digital platforms increased, while 46% said they watched more pay TV as well. And despite the catastrophic demise of Quibi, more than 85% of children and more than 55% of adults reportedly watched movies and TV shows on their mobile devices.

But at the same time, that impressive number comes at the cost of box office receipts, which plummeted as theaters across the world remained closed for the majority of the year. Global ticket sales tapped out at $12 billion, while North America made up a measly $2.2 billion of that total. It marks a 72% year-over-year decline, from 2019's $42.5 billion (with $11.4 billion from domestic theaters). Outside of North America, the top three box office markets were China ($3 billion), Japan ($1.3 billion), and France ($500 million).

However, the local cinema isn't quite dead. People still went to their local multiplex, though understandably much less frequently than before. In the U.S. and Canada, 162 million people (46%) went to the cinema at least once in 2020. The MPA states that the typical moviegoer bought 4.6 tickets annually last year. Per capita attendance was the highest among people ages 12 to 17 and Hispanic audiences had the largest presence among ethnic groups.

So it's not all doom and gloom for the movie and TV industry, per the MPA, which assured that, "Despite the challenges to the global economy brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the film television, and streaming industry has once again risen to the occasion," Charles Rivkin, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association, said. "Streaming experienced another huge boom, with new entrants into the market and more than one billion subscriptions worldwide for the first time ever."

Combined, the global theatrical and home and mobile entertainment market totaled to $80.8 billion in revenues in 2020. Sounds like an impressive number right? Well, it shrank by 18% from last year's $98.3 billion, which is still not as drastic a drop as one might expect. It seems that streaming, and an increase in at-home watching, that is keeping Hollywood afloat.