Disney and Apple “Rise Up” the Ranks of Streaming Video Subscription Services

If Netflix is the King George III of the over-the-top (OTT) industry, then the Disney+ and Apple TV+ platforms that both launched in November 2019 are the “young, scrappy and hungry” upstarts challenging for the crown. 

Today we issued the June edition of our monthly Beacon Streaming Video Monitor report, and the top-line finding is that across all five major platforms (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+ and Apple TV+) average monthly household minutes was down 4% from May and down 12% from the high in April. 

73% of viewers watched only one platform, while 22% watched two platforms and 5% watched three or more. Multiple platform usage had increased since March due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders but looks to be trending down.

Streaming is still above March pre-COVID-19 stay-at-home order levels, and the majority of viewers’ time spent continues to be on Netflix, which accounted for 70% (445 minutes) of total streaming minutes across all platforms. 

streaming platforms chart

But parsing the data on daily time spent on each platform reveals that while  Netflix and Amazon Prime experienced declines of -4% and -12% respectively, Apple TV+ surged 51% to 80 minutes primarily because of the mini-series Defending Jacob. The show’s season finale became available on May 29th, so it’s reasonable to expect its popularity will wane in July. However, Apple has the exclusive rights to the new movie Greyhound starring Tom Hanks as a WWII Navy commander evading Nazi submarines which debuts on July 9th. 

Time Spent Chart

Hulu’s daily time spent was up 5% in June, driven by animated shows and primetime classics.

Disney+ held steady at 83 minutes in June. But that surely won’t be the case this month following the July 4th holiday weekend debut of Hamilton

Between July 1-5, Hamilton was by far the most-viewed streaming video title, accounting for 22% of the time households spent across all five major streaming platforms. 80% of Disney+ users watched Hamilton, and it secured 87% of the total time spent on Disney+ platform.

These numbers also bode well for the platform’s long-term growth. The Verge obtained an audio recording of a recent Disney company all-hands meeting where CEO Bob Chapek said Hamilton brought in “a lot” of new subscribers and will continue to play an essential part in Disney Plus’ growth. Todd Spangler at Variety reports the number of downloads of the Disney+ app  Plus downloads in the U.S. was 74% higher than the average of the four weekends in June. 

It’s also important to note that Disney recently stopped offering free trials, preventing all of those new users from watching Hamilton before deciding whether to pay for a subscription.

We will continue to closely monitor the OTT market to provide our clients with insights into title performance and audience behavior based on actual viewing data across individual and multiple platforms. It will be interesting to see how a couple of significant developments in July impact viewership data across all five platforms. 

The most significant is that many states are experiencing increases in coronavirus infection rates that are forcing another round of business closures and social distancing policies. 

The second is the launch of a new “upstart”. Comcast-owned NBCUniversal’s Peacock comes online on July 15th. However, as of this writing, it is not available on any Roku and Amazon Fire TV OTT-enabled televisions or set-top streaming devices, as is the case with HBO Max which launched on May 27.


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