Canadian viewership will reach new heights this year, according to eMarketer’s latest digital video viewer forecast. Previously, the researcher expected the number of video viewers to reach 28.0 million in 2024, but it now forecasts that milestone will be met next year. Nearly 18 months of restricted public gatherings have led to more time at home and a strong appetite for long-form entertainment. Increasingly, that demand is being met by video delivered via the internet and apps.
YouTube is by far the most used digital video platform in Canada, with 25.8 million viewers this year. This is a reflection of the platform’s versatility with short clips and long-form content. SVOD services have fewer viewers than YouTube because they focus solely on entertainment. Additionally, there’s greater competition for eyeballs among these platforms. There will be 23.8 million subscription OTT viewers in Canada this year, which is up 4.1% year over year and on top of a whopping 14.9% growth rate in 2020. The result is 1.7 million more viewers than previously forecasted.
EMarketer predicts that nearly two-thirds of Canadians will be subscription OTT users by 2025. As the market grows, subscription OTT viewers will take a larger share of digital video viewership, and they will account for 86.3% of digital video viewers in 2025.
Netflix is still the most popular OTT service by far, with 18.6 million viewers, up 2.9% over last year. The researcher expects its viewership will grow at a slower rate in the coming years. By 2025, Netflix will garner viewership from half of the population in Canada. However, as the competition heats up with new entrants, eMarketer anticipates Netflix will lose share in subscription OTT: it will drop from 84.1% in 2018 to 76.7% in 2025.
On the other hand, Prime Video will have 12.2 million viewers in Canada this year, up 14.3% year over year in 2021 but down from the 51.9% growth it experienced in 2020. Much of this growth is tied to Canada's e-commerce boom —retail ecommerce sales increased by 75.0% in 2020— as Prime Video viewers get free access to the service if they are Amazon Prime customers. Therefore, Prime Video will rise from 10.7 million viewers in 2020 to 14.7 million by 2025.
With the dominance of US-based services Netflix and Prime Video, and the influx of newer services like Disney+ and Apple TV+ in the past few years, one might ask if there is much room to compete for domestic players. Homegrown services, like Bell Media’s Crave nationally and Videotron’s Club Illico in Quebec, have established sizable customer bases, but they have a small share of the OTT viewer market.