Netflix, Amazon and Others Made Big Money on Video Streaming in 2021

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If you were not fully on board with streaming entertainment by 2019, the 2020 pandemic most likely changed that. Now, streaming entertainment is an integral part of most Americans’ lives, and the streaming companies — from Amazon to Netflix, Disney+ to HBO Max — are reaping the financial rewards of our investment.

According to Victoria Mendoza, CEO and media expert at MediaPeanut, “Video streaming services were all winners during the pandemic at its onset in 2020 when lockdowns and health restrictions were like death sentences to cinemas. But in 2021, the streaming landscape has grown astronomically, with many companies starting out in streaming services with a wide range of entertainment shows and movie offerings.”

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Live Streaming Comes of Age

In 2021, live streaming grew by 13%, said Stephen Curry, CEO of CocoSign.

“Live content accrued 27% more watch time compared to video,” Curry said. “IGTV emerged as the most popular live streaming platform, Netflix took the lead in video streaming in the U.S. and YouTube dominated the free-to-access video streaming platforms.”

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The Kings of Streaming

It’s no surprise to anyone that Netflix continues to hold steady with the most subscribers. According to MediaPeanut’s data, Netflix had 214 million subscribers worldwide through Q3 and earned an estimated $28.63 billion in 2021.

Netflix may have started out humbly as a simple DVD-by-mail service, but it has since become perhaps the biggest player in the streaming market, and it continues to host award-winning originals — such as “Squid Game,” “Cobra Kai” and “Stranger Things.”

In 2021, Netflix and Amazon Prime were the “obvious winners,” Mendoza said. “Both media giants have been on a steady climb with their ability to keep subscribers, despite the emergence of new players and new exclusive movies and series offerings.”

Amazon Prime has more than 175 million members using its streaming service and made an estimated $110.8 billion in streaming alone, according to MediaPeanut’s latest data.

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HBO Max and Disney+

But if we’re going to talk about success stories in streaming, Mendoza said new players HBO Max and Disney+ “are considered winners of streaming in 2021 because, despite challenges in content releases, their following seems to be picking up. Moreover, both streaming services have competitive rates, which keep retention high.”

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To end Q3, HBO and HBO Max had 69 million subscribers worldwide — 45.2 million domestic subscribers. Disney+ had 118 million subscribers globally.

Apple TV and Hulu

Though Apple TV had fewer new releases in 2021, Mendoza said “many of Apple TV+ loyalists are sticking to the brand, as shown in the improved churn rate of 15% to 9% in the first two quarters.” The Jason Sudekis-led “Ted Lasso” certainly drove viewers to the network.

Hulu also has remained a contender, with 39.7 million subscribers for VOD (Video on demand/SVOD) and 4 million Live TV+ subscribers, Mendoza said.

The Biggest Losers

There were plenty of services that struggled.

“An obvious loser is Peacock,” Mendoza said, “and other ad-supported video on demand services, which struggled with engagement among other streaming services without any hit content to draw in subscribers.”

Peacock had 54 million users as of Q2.

“Ad-supported video is problematic,” she said, “because they also have to contend with big-time online ad platforms like YouTube and Facebook for those income-generating placements.”

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Additionally, Curry said, “Britbox and BBC didn’t make the expected gains, as they had to merge content into larger services and bow out from the industry.”

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About the Author

Jordan Rosenfeld is a freelance writer and author of nine books. She holds a B.A. from Sonoma State University and an MFA from Bennington College. Her articles and essays about finances and other topics has appeared in a wide range of publications and clients, including The Atlantic, The Billfold, Good Magazine, GoBanking Rates, Daily Worth, Quartz, Medical Economics, The New York Times, Ozy, Paypal, The Washington Post and for numerous business clients. As someone who had to learn many of her lessons about money the hard way, she enjoys writing about personal finance to empower and educate people on how to make the most of what they have and live a better quality of life.


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