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People Can't Get Enough Streaming Video

By Adam Levy - Jun 9, 2019 at 12:16PM

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Viewership for Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix all climbed considerably over the past year.

More people are streaming more video from more subscription services. That's the resounding conclusion from a new survey by RBC Capital Markets analysts.

Digging deeper into the results, RBC found U.S. viewership for Amazon ( AMZN -0.18% ) Prime and Hulu, which is controlled by Disney ( DIS 3.55% ), is growing very rapidly. The percentage of respondents watching Amazon Prime Video increased 17 points from last year's survey, and Hulu's viewership increased 18 points.

Neither has caught up to Netflix ( NFLX -0.21% ), which remains the most popular streaming service with 63% of respondents using it, up eight percentage points from last year; 54% use Amazon and 43% use Hulu.

Importantly, the growth in Amazon's and Hulu's viewership hasn't negatively impacted Netflix's viewership. That bodes well for all three as more competitors are about to enter the market.

A man holding a tablet displaying a streaming video.

Image source: Getty Images.

The rise and rise of streaming video

Netflix managed to increase its U.S. subscriber base by 5 million households over the past 12 months, reaching over 60 million paid members. Meanwhile, about 103 million American consumers use Amazon Prime, up about 11% over the past year, according to estimates from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. Hulu's viewership has increased to 82 million unique viewers, and hours watched increased 75% last year.

As all three invest more money and resources in developing and promoting better content for their streaming services, consumers are following. Millennials now spend more time streaming Netflix alone than they do watching traditional cable TV on average.

What's most impressive is Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have managed to grow viewership even as new competitors have entered the market over the last few years. Their first-mover advantage and sizable content budgets ought to enable them to continue growing subscribers and viewership even with more competition.

Consumers are ready for more streaming services

The next 12 months will see several high-profile premium streaming video services enter the market. AT&T's WarnerMedia, Comcast's NBCUniversal, Disney, and Apple are all planning to launch new services in late 2019 or early 2020.

Many investors are worried the entry of these new competitors with big content and marketing budgets will negatively impact existing competitors. Consumers are already planning to cancel Netflix for Disney+, for example.

But RBC's survey results show consumers are increasingly spending more of their time streaming video. That means they're likely spending less time consuming entertainment from other sources like cable TV, home video, or movie theaters. The increase in streaming options might accelerate that trend. Disney+, for example, could replace some Disney DVD sales. That's to say, spending on new streaming services doesn't have to come at the cost of existing streaming services.

That said, savvy consumers will find they don't need to subscribe to every streaming service all the time. There are only so many hours to watch television in the day, after all. Those consumers might hop from service to service depending on series release schedules. That's actually advantageous for the more established services like Netflix and Amazon, which have a steady stream of new content coming out all the time. Consumers are more likely to keep those subscriptions year round. Services like HBO Now, which have just a handful of high-profile series, might experience more seasonality.

More streaming options don't have to come at the cost of the well-established players in the market. The growth of Amazon Prime Video and Hulu over the past year indicates consumers are spending more money and time with streaming video. Investors should expect that trend to continue, perhaps accelerate, as new options come on the market.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Stocks Mentioned

Netflix, Inc. Stock Quote
Netflix, Inc.
NFLX
$616.47 (-0.21%) $-1.30
Amazon.com, Inc. Stock Quote
Amazon.com, Inc.
AMZN
$3,437.36 (-0.18%) $-6.36
The Walt Disney Company Stock Quote
The Walt Disney Company
DIS
$147.20 (3.55%) $5.05

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