Canadians changing how they watch TV: CRTC report
Published Thursday, September 26, 2013 12:41PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 26, 2013 1:53PM EDT
New numbers suggest that while most Canadian households still subscribe to traditional cable and satellite TV services, the increasing popularity of newer services, such as Netflix, are threatening to vastly change the way Canadians watch TV.
The annual report from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission finds that 17 per cent of Canadians say they have signed up for Netflix, the video-streaming service that allows users to watch both movies and TV programming for a monthly fee that is typically much lower than cable and satellite services.
In the last year, the percentage of Canadians that subscribed to Netflix grew 70 per cent, from just 10 per cent in 2011 to 17 per cent in 2012. And those numbers are likely continuing to grow through 2013.
Netflix launched in Canada in September 2010. While it no longer discloses how many Canadian customers it has, the CRTC report numbers suggests the service now has more than 2 million subscribers.
Mario Mota, the co-founder of Boon Dog Inc., a research and consulting firm that tracks cable subscription in Canada, says it's clear that there's a seismic shift underway in how Canadians watch TV.
"There are just so many more options for consumers today that there were even just a few years ago," Mota told CTV's Canada AM Thursday ahead of the report's release.
He notes that beyond the growing adoption of Netflix, many Canadians are choosing to watch TV clips and episodes online on their computers and tablets. They're also "binge-watching" entire seasons of TV shows through DVDs they've bought or rented from libraries.
"There's a multitude of choices out there and consumers are exercising that choice," Mota said.
But the numbers in the CRTC report also show that while the television industry is changing, there are still plenty of Canadians happy to stick with the TV services they know.
The CRTC report found that 12 million of the country's 13.9 million households subscribed to television services in 2012. That's an increase of one per cent over the previous year.
The vast majority -- 64.2 per cent -- subscribed to cable services, while 23.6 per cent subscribed to satellite services. Another 8.4 per cent used as Internet Protocol television or IPTV, which are services that deliver television over telephone lines.
Canadians watched an average of 28.2 hours of television per week in 2012 – pretty close to the 28.5 hours they watched in 2011. But while most Canadians are sticking with the TV they know, they're also choosing to access TV programming on other devices as well.
Thirty-three per cent of Canadians watched TV over the Internet, logging about 3 hours of viewing per week this way. Six per cent of Canadians said they watched programming on a tablet or smartphone, while 4 per cent reported watching television programming exclusively online.
Those numbers are expected to grow, since more than two out of four Canadians owned a smartphone in 2012 and more than one out of four owned a tablet.
Mota says it appears it's younger Canadians who are most likely to cut the cord and do without traditional cable and satellite TV service altogether.
"Generally, the younger generation who are technologically savvy have high-speed Internet, tablets, mobile phones and other ways to access the content. And they feel it suits their lifestyle to be untethered and not connected to a traditional cable TV system," he said.
Low-income Canadians and seniors are also cutting off their services, he says, but many of these people are choosing to buy antennas and get TV channels over the air for free.
"In the Toronto market, for example, you can get a dozen or so channels off air for free," Mota said. "…And if you have broadband Internet service, there are other options to supplement that content as well. So lots of choices out there."
The report also found:
- Fewer Canadians had a traditional telephone in their homes. The number of residential telephone subscribers decreased by 2.1 per cent to 11.9 million in 2012.
- Canadians have dropped more than a million telephone lines in the last five years. During the same time, wireless subscriptions rose by 5.8 million in the same period.
- In 2012, the number of Canadian wireless subscribers grew to 27.9 million -- with an average of two wireless subscriptions per household.
- Almost 80 per cent of Canada's 13.9 million households had an Internet subscription.
- Canadian families spent an average of $31 per month on Internet services, which was slightly more than the $30 they spent the previous year.
- Canadian families spent an average of $52 per month on television services, just a few cents less than what they spent a year earlier.
- Around 13 per cent of Canadians subscribed to satellite radio in 2012
- Canadians spent an average 17.5 hours listening to radio services per week in 2012