nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

People stream 5X more from Netflix than Amazon Prime Video

Nielsen streaming data Feb-Apr 2020

Nielsen says streaming now takes about a quarter of all TV time in connected TV homes. Netflix’s share is steady at a third, while Amazon Prime Video’s share is falling at 7%. So, does Amazon need to boost content spending to catch up?

Streaming’s share of TV viewing nearly doubles

Nielsen continues to track the increase in streaming’s share of viewing time as most of us obey shelter at home requirements. The data shows online video services are becoming a critical part of our entertainment bundles. The company says that streaming’s share of total TV time in streaming capable homes increased from 14% in the week of April 1st, 2019, to 23% in the last week of April. Over the same period, the average viewer boosted weekly viewing time from 69.8 minutes per week to 161.4, an increase of 131%.

SVOD share of streaming time Feb-Apr 2020

According to Nielsen data, Netflix is maintaining its share of streaming minutes during the COVID-19 emergency. The SVOD giant delivers about a third of all viewing minutes. YouTube has seen its share decrease slightly since the end of February, to 19%, while Hulu’s has increased to 12%. The laggard of the group is Amazon Prime Video, whose share has fallen from 9% to 7% over the period.

Netflix boosts viewing minutes 50%, Amazon 11%

However, since total minutes streamed have increased 40% since the end of February, every service is seeing customers streaming more. For example, the average streaming-capable household is watching 53.3 minutes per week from Netflix, up 50%. Even Amazon Prime Video minutes increased by 9%. Disney-owned Hulu minutes increased by 69%. As well, Nielsen includes Disney+ in the “other” category, which increased minutes delivered by 45%.

Looking at Nielsen’s streaming data, you might conclude that Netflix is winning, and Amazon Prime Video is losing. After all, the average streaming-capable household is watching Netflix almost 5-times longer than Amazon Prime Video. You might conclude that Amazon needs to start spending a lot more money on content to catch up. However, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and team probably don’t measure the SVOD service’s success by the time spent by viewers with the service.

Netflix and Amazon goals for content vastly different

Nielsen’s data throws into sharp relief the fundamentally different content creation strategies followed by Amazon Prime Video and Netflix.

Netflix’s objective is to win as many streamers as possible and keep them for as long as possible. Buzz-worthy titles like Tiger King and Stranger Things attract new subscribers and make existing customers feel part of the “zeitgeist,” as Ted Sarandos put it. A constant stream of new content, like season 4 of Kim’s Convenience (comedy) season 3 of Ozark (drama) and Miss Americana (documentary), make sure existing customers always have something new to watch.

On the other hand, Amazon looks to content as an added benefit of Prime membership and as an enticement to enter the Prime Video environment where people can subscribe to add-on services like Showtime. It simply doesn’t need to release new content at anywhere near the pace Netflix does to achieve its goals. There are still enticing originals like Making the Cut, ZeroZeroZero, and The Aeronauts, but there just aren’t very many of them.

Why it matters

Streaming’s share of TV viewing minutes has nearly doubled during the COVID-19 emergency.

Netflix continues to dominate while Amazon Prime Video is losing ground.

However, Amazon’s content strategy isn’t geared to boost viewing time.

It is focused on growing prime members and getting people into the Prime Video app.


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