Netflix's Lead In The Streaming Wars Is Shrinking As More Competitors Enter The Fray

You know that phenomenon when something becomes so widely used that it becomes the verb for that thing? Oh, let me Google that. Take this Kleenex. Throw that in the dumpster (yes, "Dumpster" used to be a brand). Netflix was well on its way to becoming that thing for streaming, with the cheeky "Netflix and chill" even becoming a commonly used phrase. But it may lose that chance with the influx of new streaming competitors like Disney+, HBO Max, and Peacock, and of course, its old competitors Hulu and Amazon Prime. It's unquestionable that Netflix is the No. 1 streaming service in the world right now. But can it hold onto that title for much longer? A new report which suggests that Netflix has begun to lose ground in these ongoing streaming wars.

A report from The Wrap shows that Netflix's lead over all the other streaming services is starting to shrink. While Netflix still holds 20% of the U.S. streaming market, its lead has shrunk from 29% in the past year, based on data shared by Ampere Analysis. This means that Netflix lost 31% of its market share since 2020, even as the company recorded 36.58 million new accounts last year.

So what could have caused this? Well, it was the deluge of new streaming services like WarnerMedia's HBO Max and NBCUniversal's Peacock, both of which launched in 2020. The pair of them, along with the hundreds of other new streamers that debuted this year, added to the pressure brought on by other fledgeling streamers like Disney+ and Apple TV+, which launched earlier in 2019.

Netflix is not the only established streamer to take a hit. Amazon Prime Video dropped from a 21% market share to 16%, though their numbers are "trickier" to project, per The Wrap, which notes that not every Prime subscriber is accessing the Prime Video feature, though Ampere's data indicates nearly 54 million Prime members use their Prime Video app in the United States. Hulu takes the No. 3 spot, showing that the Big Three of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu still maintain a stronghold over the Top 3 streamers. Though not for long, according to Ampere Research Manager Toby Holleran.

Holleran told The Wrap he expects "Disney+ to overtake both HBO Max and Hulu" within the first half of 2021, and "finish the year as the third largest streaming service in the U.S., with Hulu taking the fourth spot, and HBO Max taking fifth." However, Holleran notes that Netflix's place at the top of the streaming hierarchy is "seemingly cemented," though it's possible that Disney's overall streaming package — which includes both Hulu and ESPN+ — could overtake Netflix worldwide by 2024.

The rest of the market remains crowded, but with smaller slices of the pie: Apple TV+, NBCUniversal's Peacock and ViacomCBS' Paramount+ "trail far behind the leaders in the category," per The Wrap.