More U.S. Households Now Have Access to Netflix Than a DVR

Netflix - living room
Courtesy of Netflix

Netflix has hit a new milestone: More U.S. television households now have the streaming service than a digital video recorder, according to a recent study.

About 54% of U.S. adults said they have Netflix in their household — while 53% have a DVR, according to Leichtman Research Group’s annual on-demand study. It’s the first time that households with Netflix (including those that use shared accounts) have surpassed the level of those with a DVR in the history of LRG’s studies. In 2011, according to the research firm, 44% of TV households had a DVR and 28% had Netflix.

Netflix has now eclipsed DVR usage despite the latter having a years-long head start. TiVo’s first digital video recorder shipped in 1999, while Netflix debuted its video-streaming service in 2007 and started the shift away from its DVD-by-mail business. As of the end of 2016, Netflix had 49.4 million streaming subscribers in the U.S., up 10.5% year over year. LRG president Bruce Leichtman noted that Netflix’s penetration is boosted by password sharing, with previous surveys indicating nearly 20% of Netflix customers share account access with those outside their household.

About 23% of all adults in TV homes stream Netflix daily, according to LRG’s survey of 1,211 consumers 18 and older conducted in January 2017, compared with 6% who did in 2011. Overall, 64% of respondents said they get a subscription video-on-demand service from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and/or Hulu.

Meanwhile, Netflix’s stock was upgraded Monday by UBS analyst Doug Mitchelson, from “neutral” to “buy,” citing subscriber momentum in Europe and Latin America as well as remarks by Comcast CEO Brian Roberts who said last week at an investor conference that in a little more than 90 days since integrating Netflix into its X1 platform, more than 30% of X1 customers are using Netflix.

Comcast’s early results with Netflix on X1 are “encouraging,” Mitchelson wrote. “We expect ongoing churn reductions as Netflix adds more U.S. pay TV integration deals and as X1 penetrations rise.” Comcast has said about half its 22.5 million video subs have X1.

All that said, traditional linear TV is not dead in the water by any means. As Leichtman pointed out, 46% of adults say they often flip through channels to see what’s on TV.

Clarification: This article has been updated to note that Leichtman Research Group’s study included households that use shared Netflix accounts. According to LRG, previous surveys indicate that nearly 20% of Netflix customers share passwords with those outside their household.

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  1. carbonware says:

    Note they only stated 54% have it, that means your TV, DVR, blue-Ray or some other device has it built in but that does not mean they all use it. Even the article pointed out that 23% of adults us the service and 20% of adults get that stream from someone else (meaning that the kids know Mom and Dad’s log in info or vise versa). So its not really as big as they suggest.

    Sure it is big, popular and a great service, but its not as big, popular or over arching as the author would like us to believe. Nice spin job!

  2. Joe Drizzler says:

    Those numbers don’t seem to add up. According to Nielsen there are 118.4 million TV households in the United States. So how is it possible that Netflix, with 49.4 million subscribers, is in 53% of U.S. households? They would need almost 63 million subscribers (assuming no more than 1 subscriber per household) to reach 53% saturation.

    Also, according to Nielsen there are about 301 million total TV viewers (age 2+) in the U.S. So for 23% to say they stream Netflix daily would mean Netflix has 69 million subscribers.

    So where are those additional 14+ million Netflix viewers coming from?

    Maybe you’re including people who only subscribe to the DVD-by-mail service (assuming Netflix doesn’t include them in their 49.4 million subscribers)? That would make sense if there are about 14 million of them who do not also subscribe to the streaming service. But then you’d be comparing people who only watch movies to people who stream TV content.

    • Todd Spangler says:

      Thanks for raising the point. According to Leichtman Research Group, the study included households that use shared Netflix accounts — and LRG says previous surveys indicate that nearly 20% of Netflix customers share passwords with those outside their household. The story has been updated with the additional information.

    • steveo says:

      pretty sure netflix knows how many subscribers it has. Nielsen can only guess, and is probably scrambling a bit to stay relevant to boot.

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