The phrase “streaming wars” — a term used to describe the competition between the raft of new and existing streaming services, like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Max, among others — suggests there will be a clear winner in the fight for viewers. But that’s probably not the case. Instead, there’s room for multiple streaming companies in our cord-cutting future.
Case in point: Already, one quarter of Netflix iPhone app users in the US also use an app for Disney+, Disney’s streaming service that launched late last year, according to new fourth-quarter data from app measurement company App Annie, which considers usage to be opening an app at least once a month on average. That’s the highest amount of overlap of any streaming service on iPhones. Some 22 percent of Netflix app users also opened Hulu at least once a month last quarter, and 17 percent also used Amazon Prime Video.
The numbers are a bit different for Android Netflix users, 15 percent of whom have also used Disney+ in the fourth quarter of 2019. Android Netflix users are more likely — 29 percent — to also use Amazon Prime Video, which comes free with an Amazon Prime account. Part of the reason could be cost: iPhones have historically been more expensive than many Android phones, and iPhone users generally spend more money within apps than their Android counterparts.
What is consistent across Apple and Android phones is that the overlap in streaming service subscriptions is growing. “It’s clear that people are paying for and using multiple streaming services,” Lexi Sydow, senior market insights manager at App Annie, told Recode. Disney+, which debuted with the new Star Wars series The Mandalorian, as well as the vault of Disney animated classics, is so far a popular choice.
It’s less clear how this usership might change after the free trials run out or if Disney’s low introductory rate of $7 per month eventually increases. Of course, other streaming services offer free trials as well, but eventually consumers have paid for their subscriptions.
Disney+ launched in the US in mid-November and had amassed 10 million subscribers by the end of its first day. Analysts estimated it had around 24 million signups by the end of that month, and that’s the most recent approximation we have. Disney itself hasn’t provided numbers since the initial 10 million. Netflix, which has been streaming content for more than a decade, had about 62 million US subscribers (60.6 million of those are paid) by the third quarter of 2019.
As of mid-January, Disney+ is the most-downloaded entertainment app in the US on Android devices and is No. 2 on iOS (after TikTok), according to App Annie. It’s in the top 10 most-downloaded apps of any category on both operating systems. For all of 2019, Netflix ranked No. 9 for downloads globally on Android and iOS and No. 2 for consumer spend (after Tinder) on non-gaming apps.
Here’s what that rank looked like monthly last year:
While App Annie’s data is only for mobile, phones are becoming an increasingly popular viewing platform for streaming services and are thus a good indication of general demand. (As of 2018, 70 percent of Netflix viewing still happened on TV.) To wit: Quibi, a video platform unveiled at CES last week, was created exclusively for phones.
Worth keeping in mind as well: Subscription revenue from apps like Netflix is a growing share of all app revenue (28 percent) and contributes to 95 percent of spending in top non-gaming apps, according to the App Annie report. That stands to grow as more people cut the cord and subscribe to streaming services instead.
MoffettNathanson Research suggests that 13 million pay TV subscribers aren’t interested in sports — and thus don’t care about getting live broadcasts of games on TV — so they are likely to eventually cut the cord and move to streaming services.
Cable subscriptions go for about $100 a month, so theoretically people cutting the cord have that much to spend on a few different streaming services — though it’s unlikely people will spend that full amount. On average, Americans subscribers watched 3.4 different streaming services last year, according to one study, spending about $30 a month.
It remains to be seen how the addition of even more streaming options this spring — such as Peacock, HBO Max, Quibi — will affect how many streaming subscriptions people will pay for after free trial subscriptions run out.