Netflix for a long time was the reigning champion of streaming services, but a number of new services have emerged in recent years to challenge its dominance among subscribers. While some streaming services have already fallen by the wayside (RIP FilmStruck and Quibi), other services have quickly racked up millions of subscribers thanks to them offering exclusive blockbuster movies, some of the most beloved TV series of all time and a barrage of sequels and reboots.
How many subscribers does each streaming service have?
Note: Apart from Apple TV+, all numbers are from each streamer's most recent investors call in the first quarter of 2021.
Apple TV+: 33.6 million
Biggest shows: The Morning Show, Ted Lasso, Mystic Quest, See
Apple TV+ has not revealed what their current subscriber number is, but per Ampere Analysis (as cited by The Wall Street Journal) the service had 33.6 million users by the end of 2019, with Statista estimating the service had reached 40 million by the end of 2020.
This number was bolstered by the fact that Apple gives away a year of free Apple TV+ with the purchase of new devices – in fact, Variety has reported that over three-fifths of subscriptions polled in their report were not paying for the service.
Paramount+: Under 36 million
Biggest shows: Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, SpongeBob SquarePants, NCIS
In ViacomCBS' first 2021 investors call, they revealed that they had 36 million subscribers across their whole portfolio, which includes Showtime, BET+ and the newly rebranded CBS All Access, which has become Paramount+. However, they did not reveal how much of this total was made up by Paramount+ alone.
Peacock: 33 million
Biggest shows: The Office, Yellowstone, Brave New World, The King of Queens
Launched two months after HBO Max, Peacock has not managed to match the traction of its streaming rival, likely because it was not able to offer the impressive list of straight-to-streaming blockbusters HBO Max has throughout 2021, and also had to delay the release dates of many of its early originals due to the coronavirus.
We do not know, however, how many of those users are using Peacock's free tier and how many of them are actually paying to access the larger Peacock catalogue.
Hulu: 39.4 million subscribers
Biggest shows: The Handmaid's Tale, Little Fires Everywhere, Solar Opposites, The Great
Hulu is owned by Disney, though has a much smaller number of subscribers than its main streamer Disney+ due to the fact that it is only available in the U.S. Four million of those subscribers are for its cable alternative Hulu with Live TV, which makes it the most popular online live TV service in front of YouTube, Sling and Fubo.
HBO Max: 44.2 million subscribers
Biggest shows: South Park, The Flight Attendant, Warrior, Game of Thrones
Launched in May 2020, HBO Max and HBO combined now have over 40 million subscribers per their owner WarnerMedia. Like Disney+, it benefited from its archive, with the service bringing together HBO's library of acclaimed shows with the Warner Bros movie archive. Numbers were also boosted during the pandemic when the service became the only place to watch movies like Wonder Woman 1984, Zack Snyder's Justice League and Godzilla vs. Kong.
Disney+: 100 million
Biggest shows: WandaVision, The Mandalorian, The Simpsons, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
In a meteoric rise, Disney+ took about 19 months to hit the 100 million subscriber mark, which it managed in March 2021. Netflix, by contrast, took a decade to reach that milestone.
Of course, Disney+ had something Netflix did not, an extensive and beloved back catalog of movies and TV shows, including not just the Mouse House itself but also Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar.
Disney+ also had a strategy that saw them dominate east Asian countries like Indonesia and India in a way that Netflix had not managed by offering their service at a significantly discounted rate. In Indonesia, for example, Disney+ launched there for 39,000 Indonesian Rupiah a month ($2.75), compared to the 109,000 IDR ($7.72) that basic Netflix will cost you in the country.
This has allowed Disney+ to balloon in these countries, with Fortune reporting in November that one quarter of Disney+ subscribers (and one half of new subscribers) were in Indonesia and India. This has allowed the service to quickly become a major competitor to Netflix, but it also means that it is bringing in less revenue from its subscribers than Netflix, which has higher subscription costs overall.
Amazon Prime Video: 200 million
Biggest shows: The Grand Tour, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Boys, The Man in the High Castle
On paper, Amazon's Prime Video service is hot on the heels of Netflix. In reality, it is not so simple.
It is true that 200 million people are subscribed to Amazon Prime, and by extension are also subscribed to the free add-on to that service, Amazon Prime Video. The streamer, however, has never revealed exactly how many of those users actually use their streaming perks. In 2018, around the time that Amazon Prime hit 100 million subscribers in the U.S., Reuters reported that 26 million users were using the video service. If that percentage has been maintained, Amazon Prime Video has around 52 million regular users.
Netflix: 207.64 million
Biggest shows: Bridgerton, The Witcher, Money Heist, Stranger Things
Netflix remains the world's largest streaming service, hitting 200 million subscribers at the end of 2020. Though it remains the most popular of the streamers, the service has been the victim of a slowdown in recent months.
In April 2021, the streamer revealed in its earnings call that it had only added just under four million subscribers in the first quarter of 2021, compared with the 16 million they added in the same time last year as coronavirus forced everyone to stay at home.
"We had those 10 years that were smooth as silk, and we are just a little bit wobbly right now," Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings said in that earnings call. CFO Spencer Neumann added: "We believe paid membership growth slowed due to the big COVID-19 pull forward in 2020 and a lighter content slate in the first half of this year, due to COVID-19 production delays."