In the mid-2000s, improvements to data speeds and broadband costs led to an explosion of first generation video streaming services.
A group of ex-PayPal employees founded YouTube in 2005. Seeing the success of it, DVD rental company Netflix scrapped its planned streaming device and launched an internet-based streaming service instead.
Only a year after the launch of YouTube, Google acquired it for $1.65 billion. At the time, it was seen as an extravagant purchase, for a nascent technology which hadn’t generated any meaningful revenue. But, for Netflix and Amazon, it was confirmation that this market was set for spectacular growth in the next decade.
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Amazon launched Prime Video in 2006 and across the pond, the BBC launched iPlayer in 2007. All of the inaugural players were active, although it would take a few more years for recommendation systems to mature and revenue to generate.
In China, the earliest platforms had already begun operations before YouTube. Youku and Todou, the original pioneers of video streaming, launched in 2003 and 2005, respectively. It would be five years before Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu took an interest in the market.
Baidu launched iQiyi in 2010, which was the first foray into premium video streaming in China. Tencent Video came shortly afterwards, although until 2013 both were primarily focused on free, user generated content.
A major turning point in video streaming came in 2013, when Netflix debuted House of Cards, its first original series. Until then, Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services spent almost all their content budget acquiring older TV shows and movies, which had already been released on television or in the cinema.
With this move, Netflix altered the power dynamics by showing it could create quality content that millions would watch. In the next few years, it would launch some of the most popular TV shows of the decade, including Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things and Narcos.
Amazon followed suit in 2015, with the launch of The Man in the High Castle and Mr. Robot. Even Hulu, a streaming service owned by the four big US media corporations as a way to combat Netflix’s success, began publishing its own shows.
Netflix, encouraged by growing subscription numbers (60 million to 110 million in three years), has increased its content spend every year. In 2020, it spent $17 billion on content, up from $15.3 billion in 2019.
Film and TV studios have not remained static over the past decade. AT&T (owner of WarnerMedia & HBO), Comcast (with NBC), CBS and Disney have all launched streaming services to compete with Netflix. In the UK, ITV and Channel 4 have launched streaming apps.
This has caused, at least in the US, Netflix and Amazon to invest heavier into original content, as many of the shows and films owned by film and TV studios have been removed from their service, such as The Office, Parks and Recreation and the Marvel movies.
User generated content has had less of a fun time over the past five years. While revenue and usage has increased, YouTube has been accused of promoting harassment and disinformation, forcing it to change moderation policies to keep advertisers happy.
The introduction of TikTok to the Western world in 2018 also created a new competitor for YouTube, which is quickly becoming one of the most used apps in the world. Bytedance is one of the new wave technology companies in China, competing with the old guard of Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. It operates Douyin, a Chinese version of TikTok, which also has 400 million active monthly users, and Xigua Video, which has 270 million active users.
The coronavirus pandemic, far from being a detriment to the industry as it has to its neighbours (cinemas, film studios), has produced a surge in subscribers and revenue. Netflix added 25 million new subscribers in the first half of 2020, far outpacing its projections. However, in 2022, the cracks started to show in Netflix’s armour, with its first decline in monthly subscribers.
That said, as a whole the industry has a positive future outlook, with a continuing shift of people moving from traditional programming (TV, cinema) to streaming. Some movies, once held for more than six months after cinemas, are being released on streaming platforms in conjunction with cinema release or just a few weeks afterwards.
We have collected data and statistics on the video streaming app market. Read on below to find out more.
Key video streaming app statistics
- Revenue for the entire video streaming app industry reached $72.2 billion in 2021, and is projected to reach $115 billion by 2026
- YouTube is the most popular free video streaming app in the US, Netflix is the most popular paid-for app
- In the UK, YouTube is the most popular app, but BBC and ITV are not far behind
- China’s most popular video streaming platform is Tencent Video, with 900 million users
Top video streaming apps
|Title 1||Title 2|
|https://www.businessofapps.com/data/youtube-statistics/||YouTube||The most popular video streaming service in the world, with over two billion active users. Has a Premium offering which removes ads|
|https://www.businessofapps.com/data/netflix-statistics/||Netflix||Netflix is the largest paid-for video streaming service in the world, with 195 million subscribers and a $17 billion annual content spend|
|https://www.businessofapps.com/data/amazon-statistics/||Amazon Prime Video||One of the many perks of an Amazon Prime subscription, which has become a force in its own right with hundreds of original|
|https://www.businessofapps.com/data/disney-plus-statistics/||Disney+||Launched in November 2019, Disney+ is already a global force in the video streaming market, with over 70 million subscribers worldwide|
|https://www.businessofapps.com/data/apple-statistics/||Apple TV+||Apple has the deepest pockets of any company in the world, and is expected to shell out billions to make Apple TV+ a popular service|
|https://www.businessofapps.com/data/hulu-statistics/||Hulu||Hulu has a wide range of US television series, alongside a growing library of original content. It is owned by Disney|
|https://www.businessofapps.com/data/twitch-statistics/||Twitch||The most popular streaming service for video gaming, owned by Amazon. Twitch has over 150 million active users|
|https://www.hbomax.com/||HBO Max||HBO Max is the latest video streaming service for HBO content. It also includes films and TV shows from Warner Media|
|https://www.peacocktv.com/||Peacock||NBC Universal's attempt to compete with Netflix. The network holds the rights to popular series Parks and Recreation and The Office|
|https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer||BBC iPlayer||The premier streaming service for UK television programmes, including Doctor Who, Sherlock and Planet Earth|
|https://www.itv.com/hub/itv||ITV Hub||The other half of British TV programming, responsible for hit TV shows Love Island, Downtown Abbey and Broadchurch|
|https://tencent-video.en.uptodown.com/android/download||Tencent Video||China's most popular video streaming service in usage and subscribers, broadcasts content from the BBC|
|https://www.iq.com/download?lang=en_us||iQiyi||Baidu's video streaming service, the first to sign licensing agreements with Western production companies, including Netflix|
|https://youku.com/||Youku||The original video streaming service in China, somewhat overshadowed by Tencent and Baidu's move to premium content|
|https://www.hotstar.com/||Hotstar||India's most popular video streaming service with over 300 million active users, acquired by Disney in 2020|
|https://www.douyu.com/client||DouYu||China's video game streaming industry is booming and DouYu is the most popular service, with over 170 million active users|
Video Streaming App Revenue
The video streaming industry reached $72.2 billion in 2021, with most of the revenue coming from the United States. It is projected to reach $115 billion by 2026.
Global streaming projected market size 2018 to 2026 ($bn)
US Video Streaming App Market Share
Netflix is still in the lead for streaming app market share in the United States, but has been losing market share every quarter since Q1 2021. The launch of Paramount, Apple TV+, and Peacock has also diluted the market.
US video streaming app market share 2021 to 2022 (%)
US Video Streaming App Usage
The two free platforms, YouTube and TikTok, lead the pack in total usage. Netflix has the most usage out of any of the premium platforms, with Amazon Prime Video in fourth place.
US video streaming app usage 2021 (mm)
UK video streaming app usage
YouTube is ahead in the UK as well, although the gap between YouTube and other services is smaller. BBC and ITV are both watched by about 30 million people in the UK, and Netflix is behind with only 17 million viewers.
UK video streaming usage 2021 (mm)
China video streaming app usage
Tencent Video is by far the most popular video streaming platform in China, with free and premium content available on the platform. Douyin is the fastest growing service, which is China’s TikTok.
China video streaming app usage 2021 (mm)
Game streaming concurrent users
Twitch is the lead platform for gaming content, far ahead of YouTube Gaming and Facebook Gaming in terms of concurrent viewers.
Game streaming concurrent users 2019 to 2022
More Video App Data
- Disney Plus Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)
- Hulu Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)
- YouTube Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)
- HBO Max Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)
- TikTok Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)
- Netflix Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)
- Twitch Revenue and Usage Statistics (2023)