Streaming Video Gained Even More Steam in Canada during Quarantine

Even before COVID-19 caused a spike in TV time in Canada, TV continued to be a strong medium of choice. Despite annual declines, TV still commands almost one-third (31.0%) of overall media time this year. But amid stay-at-home measures, consumers turned to a blend of TV and digital video for long-form content.

Users in Canada ages 18 and older will spend 5:00 daily watching TV and digital video this year, 65% of which is TV. On average, daily digital video and TV minutes together will increase by 23 minutes in 2020, a result of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, digital video was directly displacing TV minutes.

We have revised our daily digital video estimate for 2020 to 1:46 from our previous estimate of 1:36. Time spent with video was certainly higher in Q2, and we expect average daily minutes to return to previous levels for the balance of the year. Next year, we expect digital video time to be 1:44 daily.

Over-the-top (OTT) streaming services account for a huge portion of video consumption. More than 20 million people have subscription OTT video services in Canada this year, well over half the population, according to our digital video forecast from 2019. (This number will certainly be much higher when we account for COVID-19.) This includes services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, Crave, Sportsnet Now and TSN Direct.

Netflix reported a surge in subscriptions globally during COVID-19. It added 15.8 million subscribers in Q1, more than double what was forecasted by investment analysts. The US and Canada, the largest and most mature geographical segment for the service, accounted for 2.31 million new subscribers.

Cord-cutting in Canada is contributing to digital video’s strength against TV. One estimate from Boon Dog Professional Services stated that Canadian TV providers (including traditional, satellite and telco) lost 278,000 subscribers in 2019, up 63% from the year before.