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The growth of subscription video-on-demand services has been well documented but it looks like a new milestone is in the works. Deloitte’s annual Digital Media Trends survey suggests that more consumers now subscribe to a streaming video service than to traditional TV. The survey of more than 2,000 US consumers reveals that 69% are now using streaming video services, compared to 65% who subscribe to a pay-TV service.

The gap between streaming video and traditional TV usage is especially apparent with younger respondents. An impressive 88% of Millennials (ages 22-35) report paying for a streaming video service, versus just half (51%) who use pay-TV. While not quite as dramatic a gap, Gen Z are also much more apt to be paying for streaming video services (80%) than for pay-TV (57%).

In 2017, MarketingCharts scooped that Netflix for the first time had more paying subscribers in the US than all the top cable TV companies, combined. Netflix is yet to surpass all pay-TV subscribers in number, though.

Indeed, it bears noting that other research sources have not quite come to the same conclusion as Deloitte’s study. Nielsen figures from Q3 2018 [download page] show that more than three-quarters (76.4%) of US households are using traditional TV services, while close to two-thirds (65%) subscribe to video on demand (SVOD) services.

Likewise, Leichtman Research Group’s data [pdf] are similar to Nielsen’s. The research group’s figures from October 2018 revealed that some 78% of TV households had some form of pay-TV services, while its data from August 2018 showed that 69% of US households had an SVOD service.

While these other figures do not match with Deloitte’s, it should be noted that they are at least six months old – and both sources are also showing a year-over-year trend towards growth in streaming services and a decline in traditional television. Leichtman Research Group’s figures, for example, indicate that SVOD household adoption has increased by 17% points since 2015 while, at the same time, the percentage of households with pay TV services has been on a gradual decline.

So while it can’t yet be conclusively said that streaming has surpassed traditional TV in adoption, the watershed moment certainly seems to be very close.

Content Sets Streaming Services Apart

According to Deloitte there are more than 300 streaming video services available to consumers. With all these services, one feature that sets them apart from each other is original content. In fact, 57% of streaming users (including 71% of Millennials) subscribe to a streaming service to access original content.

A similar study last year showed that nearly half (49%) of video subscribers strongly agreed that they valued the quality of original content.

Quality content isn’t just a factor that sets one streaming service apart from another, it is also a reason why consumers choose to stream over pay-TV. An IAB survey showed that the majority (87%) of subscription service users felt that the availability of unique content on streaming services was good or excellent, in contrast to 66% of pay-TV users.

Other Streaming Highlights

Here are some other highlights from Deloitte’s report, which can be accessed here:

  • To find the content they want, Millennials use both paid services (49%) and free streaming services (29%).
  • More than 4 in 10 respondents(44%) say that the lack of ads is the top reason for using paid streaming services, and three-quarters feel there are too many ads on pay-TV.
  • The top frustration with streaming services, as cited by 57% of respondents, is that shows they enjoy tend to disappear.

About the Data: Figures from Deloitte are based on a survey of 2,003 US consumers, conducted from December 2018 to February 2019.

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