Analysts predict, with Netflix’s popularity soaring around the world, it will have a larger audience than all the major broadcast networks within a year.
According to Variety, Wall Street analysis firm FBR Capital Markets said Netflix was already on par with the likes of ABC and NBC, and that given its 40% compound annual growth rate, it will also surpass CBS and Fox by 2016.
That said, the analysis is not a perfect comparison. FBR used Nielsen TV ratings for the major networks, which excludes online video views, and only covers DVR and video-on-demand for seven days. The analysts compared this to an estimate based on Netflix’s report that its users had streamed about 10 billion hours of video in the first quarter of 2015.
But even if the analysis is an estimate, there is no doubt that Netflix is gaining power relative to paid TV. FBR pointed to a survey they performed in which consumers were asked to choose between Netflix and cable (or satellite): 57% went with Netflix, while only 43% chose cable or satellite.
One factor that could contribute to Netflix’s rise is the sheer amount it is starting to spend on content rights. FBR said Netflix is expected to spend almost $2 billion on content rights in the U.S. alone — more than HBO, Showtime, and Starz. That’s still less than the major networks, however.