Worldwide subscription over-the-top users forecast for 2022 and beyond

Subscription over-the-top (sub OTT) video viewing has become one of the most common digital activities on Earth. We forecast 1.88 billion people worldwide will use a sub OTT service at least once per month in 2022. That figure has nearly doubled from just four years ago.

The number of sub OTT video service users is now akin to the number of YouTube viewers, Facebook users, and total worldwide ecommerce shoppers. Very few digital services or activities draw in multibillions of users, but platforms like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and a multitude of others have put the sub OTT industry at that level.

And, despite slowing growth, sub OTT is still gaining users more quickly than any of the other massively common digital activities we track.

Total sub OTT usership will expand by 9.1% worldwide this year, meaning that 157.1 million more people will use these services in 2022 compared with last year. Although this growth figure has come down considerably since the height of the pandemic (25.5% in 2020), that does not suggest the industry has hit a wall.

The pandemic did play a huge role in sub OTT’s explosive expansion, however, and that positive effect is fading. If we include our 2022 projections, 677.4 million people will have joined the ranks of sub OTT users in the three years since the pandemic began. However, over the next three years, new additions will amount to only 269.4 million. That’s still a lot of people, though—nearly equal to the population of Indonesia.

Sub OTT usage has become nearly as mainstream as YouTube. This year, 55.7% of all digital video viewers worldwide will be sub OTT users. That’s just a shade behind YouTube, at 63.5%.