Mobile Minute

Mobile Minute: Holiday Season Brings on Streaming Wars Amongst Top Video Apps

Lexi Sydow

Streaming apps see major surge, with HBO Max jumping 215% in US downloads on Christmas Day 2020

What’s Happening: 

Global pandemic or not, the holiday season is always a time to huddle indoors with friends and family to escape the cold weather. More time inside means more time on mobile devices, as consumers catch up on the latest shows and movies. In fact downloads of Entertainment apps totaled over 20.2 million in the US during the week of Christmas 2020, up 20% week over week. Consumer spend in Entertainment apps topped $47.2 million in the US during this week — up 25% from the week of Christmas in 2019.

Why It Matters:

Streaming apps have soared during 2020, with even higher viewership during the holiday season. Consumers gravitated towards the streaming apps that house their holiday favorites. Numerous original holiday movies, and more well-known ones, such as How The Grinch Stole Christmas, helped Netflix see downloads increase by 70% on Christmas compared to the average of the 7 days prior. Disney+ saw similar results, as downloads increased 65% on Christmas compared to the average of 7 days prior, with watchers streaming other classics, such as the Home Alone movies and The Santa Clause trilogy, and due to the exclusive release of Pixar's latest movie, Soul. We tend to see a bump in downloads and usage during the holidays, but many top video streaming apps surpassed the overall market lift. 

HBO Max took a different approach to attract consumers during the holidays — Wonder Woman 1984 became available for HBO Max subscribers to watch at no extra cost on December 25th, the same day it opened on the big screen in theaters across the United States. This helped drive an increase in downloads on Christmas at 215% compared to the average daily downloads of the week prior to Christmas — with the app soaring to #3 on Christmas and #1 on December 27th on the downloads ranking chart for non-gaming apps in the US.  

video streaming apps us downloads christmas 2020

The streaming app wars started long before the holiday season, and are only expected to heat up as two of the biggest platforms have upcoming anniversaries. Netflix will see its 14 year streaming anniversary on January 15th, while Amazon Prime Video’s 10 year anniversary will be on February 22nd. Looking back, there have been some major contributors to the growth of each platform. Netflix surpassed the 430 million global MAU mark in April 2020, due to a strong growth in user acquisition over time and a boost from COVID-19 lockdowns. Amazon Prime Video surpassed the 170 million global MAU mark in October 2020, with the release of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm. Netflix has often been ahead of the curve over its competitors, reaching the 200 million MAU threshold in Jan 2018. 

Go Deeper:

Video streaming apps are not going away anytime soon as consumers have more streaming platforms at their disposal than ever before. NBC, for example, launched its streaming app, Peacock TV, this year — and there are even more on the horizon, with Discovery+ making its debut on Jan 3, 2021. Streaming apps saw 40% year-over-year growth in global time spent in 2021, and with more apps and content to consume it’s inevitable that time spent will continue to grow in 2021. 

For more information on mobile during the holiday season, please see our blog post here: Reach Holiday Shoppers Where They’re Spending the Most Time this Season: On Mobile

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This post is the latest in a Mobile Minute series that features App Annie’s perspective on how mobile is impacting current events and consumer trends. Check in weekly for our take on the latest news cycles and how mobile transformation is shaping industries around the world.


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January 6, 2021

Mobile Minute

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