Mobile subs growth in 2018 was biggest in almost a decade, says report

Bell Telus and Rogers

Last year, mobile wireless providers saw the largest increase in subscriber counts since 2011, according to a report released on Monday by the Convergence Research Group.

The group estimates that 1.49 million subscribers were added in 2018 in its Canadian Couch Potato analysis. At the same time, wireless revenues grew by five percent to $21.2 billion, and Convergence forecasts that to continue into 2019.

Unsurprisingly, the report indicates that revenues and subscriber counts continue to fall for traditional Canadian television providers.

Both metrics declined by an estimated two percent in 2018, said the report, with traditional TV provider revenue coming in around $8.58 billion, as well as seeing a loss of approximately 210,000 subscribers. The research group also predicted that in 2019, the television business will see another drop of about 253,000 subscribers.

On the flip side, over-the-top (OTT) services like Netflix continued to grow in Canada with an estimated 33 percent jump to $1.12 billion in revenues last year, and a predicted $1.51 billion in 2019. Like last year, Convergence thinks that by year-end 2020, OTT subscriber numbers will exceed those with traditional television.

“American programmer direct to consumer OTT plays have started to impact with CBS All Access going direct and not selling select series to Canadian distributors, NBCU’s hayu up against its linear Canadian distributors, and Discovery’s launch of GolfTV OTT in Canada,” said the report. “We expect more entries as programmers expand their OTT platforms globally.”

At the same time, it’s not all bad news for Canada’s television providers, as their residential internet business continues to enjoy growth. Subscriber addition estimates topped 387,000 and revenue increased eight percent to $8.68 billion in 2018.

Similar increases in broadband subscribers are expected for next year as well.

These numbers were derived from analysis of 24 streaming services.

Source: Convergence Research Group