Sharply rising streaming TV platforms' “reach” key levels. Some are nearing broadcast and cable TV network numbers, which could make them competitive for exclusive live major sports franchises deals -- NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL, PGA Golf-- in the next few years.
Netflix is virtually at the broadcast mark -- with a 55% reach number of U.S. TV households, according to an analysis of Nielsen data and other metrics by MoffettNathanson Research.
By comparison, broadcast networks' reach numbers are in the 60% range -- ABC, 58%; Fox, 58%; NBC, 60%; and CBS, 60%. There are 129 million U.S. households as of January 2021.
Although other major streaming TV operations are below these levels -- with Amazon Prime Video at 41%; Roku, 34%; Disney+, 30%; Pluto TV, 26%; and Tubi, 24% -- these streamers are already at the reach level of traditional linear cable TV networks.
For decades, cable TV channels have been stagnant when it comes to subscriber growth -- which has kept them in the 30% to 35% reach range. Those networks are now seeing slow declines due to cord-cutting.
The top cable TV networks currently are TNT at 34%; TBS, 32%, ESPN, 30%; and USA Network, 26%.
In three years time, however, many premium streamers will be well ahead of cable networks and near broadcast networks. They could compete for high-priced programming, such as sports.
By 2025, the report estimates that Netflix -- which will grow more slowly in U.S. subscribers (around 73 million currently) -- will stay roughly at the same 55% reach level. But others will continue to climb: Disney+ will get to 51%; Prime Video, 50% ; Hulu SVOD, 50%; Roku, 50%; Tubi, 42%; and Pluto TV, 37%.
According to the authors of the report: “At these elevated levels of subscribers and MAUs [monthly active users], we think DTC [direct to consumer] services could start to support major sports rights, and our current subscriber forecasts could even prove conservative considering the potential acceleration in subscriber growth sports could provide.”