Netflix Now Has More Paying Subscribers in the US Than All The Top Cable TV Companies, Combined

A couple of months ago we reported on the diverging successes of Netflix and cable TV companies, noting that the former boasted almost as many paying subscribers as the latter. Well, as of Q1 2017, Netflix has overtaken cable TV companies in subscriber volume, per our review of Netflix’s latest earning statement [pdf] and figures released by the Leichtman Research Group.

[UPDATE – EDITOR’S NOTE: This analysis is original to MarketingCharts.com.]

It’s a fairly academic comparison, comparing apples to oranges in a sense, as Netflix and cable companies have different business models. Still, it serves as a reminder of the expanding reach of Netflix as the pay-TV market slowly shrinks and fragments.

Here are the latest takeaways (all data as of the end of Q1 2017):

  • Netflix now has 49.4 million paid memberships in the US;
  • Netflix’s US paid membership count has more than doubled in the past 5 years, from 22 million in Q1 2012;
  • The 49.4 million paying subscribers for Netflix exceeds the estimated 48.6 million for all of the top 6 cable companies, combined;
  • The number of cable company subscribers has fallen from 51 million 4 years ago; and
  • Netflix has twice as many paying subscribers in the US than any single pay-TV provider, with Comcast (22.5 million), a cable company, and DIRECTV (21 million), a satellite company, leading among pay-TV providers; and
  • Netflix has about half as many paying subscribers as the entire pay-TV provider market, which includes minor internet-delivered players including Sling TV (1.6 million) and DIRECTV NOW (375k).

Last note: the pay-TV market shed about 410,000 subscribers during the first quarter of 2017, a significant reversal after a fractional gain of 10,000 subscribers in Q1 2016. That loss is even greater when removing internet-delivered providers (which gained 350k subscribers) from the list – widening to a loss of more than three-quarters of a million subscribers.

Netflix’s size relative to the country’s top cable TV providers: