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Streaming Wars III: HBO Max, Apple TV+ Picking Up Steam

by Alex Kirschenbaum Nov 12, 2021

It’s time to crunch the numbers once again for the third piece in our Streaming Wars series! Today, we’ll take a look at streaming market shares for the third quarter of the year, the sequel to our prior pieces analyzing the first and second quarters of 2021. We’d like to offer a hat-tip to our friends at JustWatch for putting these charts together for our appraisal. This window of time covers streaming data from July through September, 2021, with proportions devised via JustWatch user engagement.

Here’s a look at where consumers are focusing their streaming energies during the third quarter of 2021:

Netflix remains the front runner as the most-watched Streaming Video On Demand (SVOD) service, but its lead over the competition continues to shrink. Last quarter, it captured 28% of the market, an 8% lead over its closest competitor, Amazon Prime. This time, that lead was sliced to just a 6% advantage, with a 27% market share over Amazon’s 21%. Disney+ and Hulu (which is now mostly-owned by Disney) are next, with 14% and 13% of the SVOD market, while HBO Max is nipping on their heels with a 10% share.

HBO Max possesses a broad range of movies and TV shows, past and present, that can appeal to a wide variety of folks, including a whole roster of Turner Classic Movie fare and, of course, a controversial day-and-date tandem release schedule coinciding with Warner Brothers’s entire slate of 2021 movies. The star-studded new Dune movie, which was the most buzzed-about release of the year thus far, was released one day after the cut-off point of these charts, so one would imagine that there will be further growth in the final quarter of this miserable pandemic year. During this specific quarter, The Suicide Squad, Malignant, Reminiscence, and The Many Saints of Newark numbered among the chief cinematic releases.

Apple TV+ saw a big uptick as well, though that appears to mostly be a credit to big-budget, star-studded series, rather than movies. A low price tag compared to other big streamers, plus content like The Morning Show, Mythic Quest and of course the feel-good show of the year, Ted Lasso, compelled a whole new wave of subscribers.

JustWatch was kind enough to unpack exactly how the various streaming platforms developed during 2021, from January through September, in a separate graph:

The usual suspects are the growth leaders, but it’s impressive to see Apple TV+, Showtime, Paramount+ and Discovery+ all commanding respectable sums.

Will these trends persevere through the end of the year? Only time will tell if they’ll stand the test of time.