Many investors are worried that the introduction of new streaming services from Disney (NYSE:DIS), AT&T (NYSE:T), Comcast, (NASDAQ:CMCSA)and others will cut into the amount of time spent on and subscriber totals for incumbents like Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN)

But as new competitors come to market, it appears more and more likely that consumers will find both time and money in their budgets to use multiple streaming services. 

The latest evidence comes from App Annie's State of Mobile 2020 report. The app tracking company found consumers spent 50% more sessions in entertainment apps in 2019 than in 2017. It also uncovered a couple of key trends in the overlap of Netflix users and their use of other streaming video apps, that shows a growing number of consumers will use and subscribe to multiple streaming apps.

A man holding a tablet streaming video.


Disney+ users still use Netflix

Disney made a big splash in the market when it launched Disney+ in November. It was the most-downloaded app in the fourth quarter by a wide margin, according to data from SensorTower. It saw 10 million signups in its first 24 hours, and that number steadily grew over the next two months.

Disney+ users had the highest overlap with Netflix of any streaming service in the fourth quarter, according to the App Annie report. In other words, consumers picked up the Disney+ app, but didn't drop Netflix.

It's possible many consumers were merely testing the waters for Disney+. App Annie counts a monthly user as anyone who so much as opens the app. And with all the buzz around the Disney+ launch and a weeklong free trial available, some of that overlap may disappear over time.

The broader trend suggests it's here to stay

Disney+ may have had the most overlap with Netflix, but several other streamers have significant overlap in their users as well. Most importantly, the overlap between various streaming services and Netflix has grown across the board over the last two years.

The number of users using both Hulu and Netflix increased around 75% last quarter (perhaps helped by the new bundle with Disney+ and ESPN+). The number of users on both Amazon Prime Video and Netflix increased around 20%. HBO NOW users overlapped with Netflix users nearly 20% more often as well.

The growing amount of overlap indicates consumers aren't cancelling Netflix to pick up other streaming services; they're adding new subscriptions to their lineup. Disney+ may be just the latest subscription consumers are using to complement Netflix -- not replace it.

Data from SensorTower produces a similar conclusion. Even when you don't count downloads of Disney+, downloads of streaming video apps increased 4.7% year over year.

An expanding market

New services from AT&T and Comcast will enter the market in the first half of the year, and investors should expect to see a similar result as the launch of Disney+. Instead of cannibalizing the market, new services will expand it.

The pricing and content of Comcast's Peacock seems specifically designed to complement existing video services instead of trying to replace them. HBO Max, likewise, is designed to expand the appeal of HBO.

More and more consumers are picking up multiple streaming video subscriptions. Investors worried that Netflix will suffer as big media companies enter its domain should consider consumers' recent behaviors as a better indicator of Netflix's resiliency than what consumers say they'll do.

Additionally, it means there can be multiple winners of the "streaming wars" over the next few years.

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.