Netflix Will See Some Erosion As Streaming Rivals Come Online, Study Predicts


While it remains the dominant force in streaming, Netflix has seen its market share erode slightly in a trend that is likely to continue, research firm eMarketer predicts.

In a new forecast issued Wednesday, the firm said Netflix’s U.S. viewership is currently 55.3% of the population, or 182.5 million people. The viewership figure is an extrapolation of how many people ultimately avail themselves of the company’s 60.1 million domestic subscriber accounts.

Despite a wobbly second-quarter earnings report, which saw the company disclose its first dip in domestic subscribers in eight years, Netflix will see U.S. viewership rise 7.6% this year over 2018 levels, eMarketer said. Even so, the company’s share of U.S. OTT subscription users will fall to 87% this year from 90% in 2014, dipping further to 86.3% by 2023, as the marketplace becomes more diversified.

The report focuses on established players Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now and Sling TV, but the marketplace will soon get even more crowded as Disney+, Apple TV+ and HBO Max debut.

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The figures from eMarketer, a unit of German media giant Axel Springer, are based on a range of sources and “weighted based on methodology and soundness,” the company said. The sources include “quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies,” researchers noted.

“Netflix has faced years of strong competition for viewers, coming from streaming video platforms, pay TV services and even video games,” eMarketer forecasting analyst Eric Haggstrom said. “While there is no true ‘Netflix killer’ on the market, Disney’s upcoming bundle with Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ probably comes closest. Netflix’s answer has been to stick to what has made it the market leader—outspending the competition on both licensed and original content, offering customers a competitive price.”

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has estimated the company accounts for about 10% of all U.S. TV viewing, leaving it plenty of room to grow domestically. But established players like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video are continuing to offer competition, and the space will be growing more crowded soon. Disney+ launches November 12 and Apple’s offering is expected out in November.

In 2019, eMarketer estimates, Amazon Prime Video will remain No. 2 in subscription streaming, with 96.5 million viewers, a nearly 9% jump from 2018. By 2021, the e-commerce behemoth’s video offering will reach one-third of the U.S. population.

Hulu has gained significant ground in 2019, albeit from a smaller base, eMarketer said. It will reach an estimated 75.8 million viewers this year, up 17.5% from 2018. The growth rate is lower than the 49.6% burst it saw in the previous year, when The Handmaid’s Tale cemented its status as a top-tier service.

“The market for streaming video has been driven by an explosion in high-end original content and low subscription costs relative to traditional pay TV,” Haggstrom said. “A strong consumer appetite for new shows and movies has driven viewer growth for services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video, as well as the broader market.”

Here are a couple of charts from eMarketer illustrating the trends:

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