More than half of Americans watch Netflix
James R | On 24, Nov 2015
More than half of American web users now use Netflix, according to new research.
A study by RBC Capital Markets reveals that 51 per cent of US Internet users stream movies or TV shows from the site, a record high that ranks Netflix above YouTube – and other streaming services, such as Amazon, Hulu and HBO Go.
YouTube and Netflix are always hard to compare head-to-head, as the former is a free site with short-form content, while the latter is a premium site with mostly long-form content. Nonetheless, the figures highlight just how prominent Neflix has become in the VOD landscape.
Two years ago, according to research by Sandvine, VOD services accounted for 31.6 per cent of downstream peak traffic in the US, including YouTube and Netflix. As of May 2015, that has increased to 69 per cent, with Netflix alone accounting for 36.5 per cent – again, far ahead of YouTube’s 15.56 per cent.
Sandvine’s traffic analysis, though, highlights the differing appeals of each site: on the move, people are more likely to watch and share short-form content than in their living rooms at home. In the first half of 2014, therefore, YouTube led mobile streaming traffic, accounting for 17.7 per cent of peak downstream activity – a figure that has risen this year to 21.2 per cent. Netflix, on the other hand, accounts for just 4.08 per cent of mobile streaming, behind Facebook’s 15.81 per cent, as the social network also begins to offer short-term video.
Netflix, though, is growing rapidly: as of September 2015, it has 43 million subscribers in the US and 26 million subscribers elsewhere around the world. “We believe that Netflix has achieved a level of sustainable scale, growth, and profitability that isn’t currently reflected in its stock price,” RBC analyst Mark Mahaney tells Quartz.
The site’s original content is key to its appeal, with over half of RBC survey respondents in France (52 per cent) and Germany (64 per cent) saying they’ve watched House of Cards. RBC reveals that action and drama translates best into overseas markets, with comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, for example, only being watched by 8 per cent and 10 per cent of French and German respondents, compared to 26 per cent in the US.
With YouTUbe now launching its own subscription service, YouTube Red, complete with its own original content, how will the figures change in the coming year?