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The Race to Catch Netflix: A Snapshot of Global DTC Streaming Scale (Updated)

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(Image credit: MyLondon)

This article was updated on 8/13/2021 to account for official subscriber numbers released by Disney.

So how is that quest to catch up with Netflix going in the race for global direct-to-consumer subscriber scale?

A perfect gauge of this competition is hard to come by, since the metrics are all sliced and diced so differently among technology, media and telecom companies. But here’s an imperfect snapshot of where things stand. 

(Image credit: Future)

Legend

* Amazon said during its Q1 earnings call that 175 million Prime members had “streamed TV shows and movies in the past year.” It’s tough to determine how many of those Prime members are active users of the SVOD service. Notably, this figure doesn’t account for Amazon’s growing legion of ad-supported streaming users through IMDb TV, or those who rent movies and TV shows through Amazon’s transactional service. 

** Disney Plus ended Disney’s fiscal Q3 with 116 million subscribers globally, adding to the 39.1 million reported for Hulu and the 13.9 million counted for ESPN Plus.

*** WarnerMedia said it finished Q2 with 47.5 million HBO subscribers across HBO Max and HBO linear platforms worldwide. Discovery Inc., meanwhile, said it closed the quarter with 18 million direct-to-consumer customers globally. The spinoff and merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery isn’t nearly closed, but we combined their global DTC numbers, anyway. 

***** ViacomCBS said it added 6.5 million global streaming subscribers across platforms including Paramount Plus and Showtime in the second quarter, closing the three-month period with 42 million DTC customers. 

^ Apple made a rare specific mention of Apple TV Plus during its second quarter earnings call, but it would only say that its global subscriber ranks across its vast service portfolio had increased by 150 million year over year to 700 million. In May, Ampere Analysis published data suggesting that Apple TV Plus has around 40 million paid subscribers. That remains all we have to go on.

^^ NBCUniversal reported 54 million signups for Peacock as of the end of Q2. However, a year after its national launch, the streaming service—which combines SVOD and AVOD tiers—has only 20 million active users. That will change soon, with the rollout of Peacock on Sky in Europe. Note that again, this exercise is highly imperfect, and our benchmarking of NBCU relative to others on the chart reflects that. For example, we benchmark Amazon Prime Video on the sheer number of Prime members who've used the service at least once in the last year, not on active users (a figure we don't have). If we ply the same standard to NBCU, the number becomes 54 million. 

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. His reliable mid-range jump shot, deft ambidextrous post-up game and tough interior defense have been criminally overlooked.