Pandemic shutdown impacts Canadians’ interest in streaming services, with 29% increase from January 2020 to April 2020.
14 May 2020
Canadians are turning to streaming services for their entertainment needs in greater numbers than ever before. Gone are the days of commercial interruptions. People now want, and even expect, their content on demand. Let’s take a look at the state of streaming in Canada.
Even though it may seem like everyone is sharing their latest must-see binge watch, as of 2020 just 18.8%, or 7.1 million Canadians, subscribe to a video streaming service. According to Statista, these services are defined as monthly subscriptions in exchange for unlimited access to content. Streaming subscriptions like these remain on the rise in Canada, with a year-over year-growth rate of 6.4%.
These seemingly low-penetration numbers don’t tell the full story though. According to Statista, more than two thirds of Canadians (68.6%) report watching streamed or downloaded video content on any device at least once per month. Clearly, the majority of Canadians love watching video content on demand, they just won’t always subscribe to a monthly streaming service to do it.
Streaming in Canada is becoming a big business with revenue in the video streaming segment estimated to amount to $476 million in 2020. Streaming revenue in Canada has a projected annual growth rate of 8.9% in 2020, according to Statista. This works out to an average revenue per user of almost $67.
Men and women love streaming almost equally, with men just a little more likely to subscribe to a video streaming service than women (53.1% to 46.9%), according to Statista.
Streaming may be the great democratizer as household income doesn’t seem to be a barrier. Those with the lowest incomes make up the biggest share of video streaming subscribers in Canada at 36.7%, followed by 32.5% for middle income earners and 30.8% for high income earners.
Age remains the biggest determining factor in whether or not you subscribe to a video streaming service. Young Canadians aged 25–34 make up the highest number of subscribers to video streaming services at 31.4%, according to Statista, followed by those aged 35–44 at 25%, then Canada’s youngest adults aged 18–24 at 18.3%.
Not surprisingly, older Canadians who may prefer traditional television, or may not be as tech savvy, only make up 14.3% (ages 45–54) and 11.1% (ages 55–64) of subscribers.
Canada’s favourite streaming services
For Canadians who can remember having to head to their local video stores, the shift to streaming truly began when Netflix arrived on the scene about a decade ago. So it’s no surprise Netflix is still Canada’s number one video streaming service, with an estimated 45% market share. Check out our complete Netflix guide.
After Netflix came Amazon Prime Video, which many avid shoppers were introduced to as a free bonus of their monthly Amazon Prime priority shipping subscriptions. In recent years Amazon has been upping its game by featuring award-winning original content, which may be part of why it now captures approximately 25% of the market share in Canada. Check out our Amazon Prime Video guide.
Another emerging player in Canada that most parents of young children know all too well is Disney+, which launched in Canada in November 2019. Disney+ features all the familiar classics, including those from Pixar, along with all the Marvel Universe flicks for adults and older kids. Check out our Disney+ guide.
Streaming interest rises in a pandemic
Interest in streaming has exploded across Canada in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several months of stay-at-home directives have found Canadians spending more time than they could’ve ever imagined on their couches, streaming countless hours of entertainment.
While it may take a while to determine the full effect of the pandemic on future streaming behaviour, in the short term we analyzed SEMrush data on Canadian traffic to the websites of popular streaming services to see how interest has changed.
In the week following the WHO’s March 11 declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, Canada was shutting down schools, businesses and borders to stop the spread. The sharp rise in streaming interest from February to March reflects a rapid shift in behaviour that saw people home and planning to stream more often.
When comparing 10 popular streaming sites in Canada, the average increase was about 22%. The services that saw the biggest increases in interest from February to March were Sundance Now (42%), Netflix (33%), Acorn TV (29%) and unsurprisingly Disney+ (28%) – with all the kids now at home.
From January to April 2020 the average increase on these sites was about 29%, that’s 7 percentage points more than the February to March timeframe. The 3 services that saw the biggest increases in interest were horror and thriller streaming site Shudder at 81%, Prime Video at 63% and Disney+ at 48%. Canadians may have sought to escape the depressing 24/7 news cycle, turning to Shudder for these thrills.
Huge increases in Prime Video interest could be due to pandemic lockdowns closing bricks-and-mortar retail. People were likely left looking for fast shipping and they may have turned to Amazon Prime to get it.
Nicole McKnight is the Canada PR Manager at Finder. Nicole completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts (English Literature) at McMaster University and holds a certification in Corporate Communications. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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