Streaming Giants: The Top Six Netflix Competitors
Updated: September 20,2022
Netflix has been the reigning king of streaming services for years, but as its competitors continue to grow, the company is starting to see some serious competition. The entertainment world has come a long way since Netflix, a mail-based DVD rental company, began offering a supplementary streaming service to their customers.
The streaming universe has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and while Netflix has earned the status of a household staple, its hold on the market is far from absolute. This article will look at the top six Netflix competitors and explore what makes them stand out. Whether you’re a Netflix subscriber or just considering signing up, it’s worth taking a closer look at these alternatives.
A Brief History of the Streaming Industry
The idea of streaming content existed even before Netflix and other services came to play. In 1995, Progressive Networks developed a music streaming platform, RealAudio 1.0. Then there was Napster, a music streaming staple that operated for a couple of years in the early 2000s.
The first video-on-demand service came from China in 1998 under the name iTV. This ambitious project cost Hong Kong Telecom $1.5 billion and charged a $35 monthly subscription. It eventually failed but reemerged in 2006, with a much better success rate under the name NOW TV.
Amazon, a major Netflix competitor, launched Amazon Unbox in 2006, allowing its users to rent and stream movies and TV shows. The model was flawed and was eventually closed down but not for long - the service later became Amazon Prime Video.
Another popular streaming service that competes with Netflix for market share is Hulu, launched in October of 2007. That same year, Apple launched Apple TV, but the service at the time was limited to computers alone.
This limitation would be removed the following year in January, the same month Netflix expanded its services to allow unlimited streaming, a response that would begin the Netflix vs. competitors era. Many other video-on-demand providers would come up in the next decade, using Netflix as a template for their services.
That said, let’s look at the top six Netflix rivals:
Netflix Competitors and Alternatives
They say too much of a good thing can be bad, but there don’t seem to be any downsides to CBS and Viacom entering a merger. There’s more content offered through this Netflix competition, including content from all of Viacom’s brands like Comedy Central, MTV, and Nickelodeon. The merger also involved a rebranding, so CBS All Access is now Paramount+.
It’s no doubt that CBS is an entertainment powerhouse, providing some of the best TV and movie content for decades. Some popular titles are fan-favorites like The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, and MacGyver. Sports and entertainment award shows, such as Grammys, are also included in the offer.
In September 2021, Showtime’s catalog was added to Paramount+, making this service an even more serious stakeholder in the streaming industry. As of March 2022, Paramount+ had a total of 39.6 million subscribers.
Subscription costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year (Essential plan) and $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year (Premium plan).
You’d expect that a Home Box Office streaming service would live up to its name, and HBO rightly does. The production company has over four decades of premium entertainment content, making it one of the biggest Netflix streaming rivals.
Some might even say Netflix’s content pales compared to what HBO puts out, so this comparison feels unfair, but that’s a conversation for another day.
HBO Go was the initial iteration of the company’s streaming service provider before it was simplified to HBO Max in 2020. Its alternative service, HBO Now is now simply known as HBO.
HBO Max is the more attractive offspring of the Netflix rival company, offering all of HBO’s content in addition to a new range from WarnerMedia brands.
The interesting part is that even as an HBO subscriber, you can enjoy HBO Max at no extra cost. With all-time favorites like Westworld, The Sopranos, Gentleman Jack Friends, Young Justice, Doctor Who, and Game of Thrones all at $14.99 per month, the Netflix vs. HBO Max debate comes to a quick end.
For many obvious reasons, Disney Plus is one of the biggest competitors to Netflix. Disney was already a major player in the entertainment industry, with one of the most extensive content catalogs for children and adults alike, all now available on a streaming service. From timeless animations and movies dating back to the 50s to endearing franchises, documentaries, and of course, the MCU - the Disney library almost speaks for itself. Add the acquisition of Fox in 2019, and you have enough content to knock your socks off.
Netflix may have started something new with modern-day streaming, but standing side-by-side with Disney, it’s just a little tough to stack up.
Interestingly, Disney used to have a streaming distribution deal with Netflix, which ended in 2019 and led the former to develop its own service. Now, Mickey’s parent company has the third-highest streaming market share.
Disney+ is also a much cheaper alternative to Netflix, costing just $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year, compared to Netflix’s $9.99 (Basic), $15.49 (Standard), or $19.99 (Premium).
One of the biggest attractions of the 21st century is cable TV, and although streaming is gradually taking its place, cable and network television is still relevant. Hulu capitalizes on this allure by giving subscribers access to the most popular shows right after they air.
It’s a best of both worlds type of situation, and what makes Hulu stand out in this Netflix competitors analysis. But that’s not all. In true streaming service fashion, Hulu offers its subscribers tons of original content such as Animaniacs, Veronica Mars, and the critically acclaimed The Handmaid’s Tale. Add the exclusive streaming rights to most of FX’s catalog, and it’s pretty much lights out for Netflix.
The final nail on the coffin? Hulu only costs $6.99/month and $69.99/year or $12.99/month for ad-free viewing. The add-on plan package offer includes Hulu, Live TV with Disney+ and ESPN+ costs $69.99/month ( $75.99/month with no ads).
Amazon Prime Video
If there’s an entry on this list with a serious competitive advantage, it must be Amazon Prime Video. Thanks to its parent company’s seemingly inexhaustible financial resources and ability to pursue even the most unlikely of productions, it’s almost unfair to consider Prime Video as one of the companies like Netflix.
Nevertheless, Amazon Prime Video is a streaming service just like Netflix, albeit unique in its own way. You could cite any reasons for this individual prowess, such as its very well-produced original content, a catalog of the world’s best movies, and an extensive global network.
Also, Amazon acquired Twitch in 2014 for $970 million, putting its finger in the live streaming pie. Amazon also has a market cap of 11.9%, the highest among the Netflix competitors as of 2021.
Prime Video subscription costs $14.99 per month and offers free delivery and access to Prime Reading and Prime Gaming.
The saying “what’s worth doing, is worth doing right” has to be Apple TV+’s mantra. The streaming service focuses on creating shows with ensemble casts and fantastic picture quality. From “See” and “Ted Lasso” to “The Shrink Next Door” and “Black Bird,” the last entry on our Netflix competitor analysis has offered the entertainment world the best of writers, actors, and crews since its 2019 launch.
Despite coming out with a less extensive library compared to its counterparts, Apple TV+ has made a strong name for itself.
This success can be attributed to the streaming service’s integration with the Apple brand and its undeniable quality. Not to mention it’s $4.99 monthly for up to six devices, which is a terrific deal.
With all of these alternatives, should you consider canceling your Netflix subscription? Perhaps not just yet. The Netflix market share compared to competitors is still the highest, accounting for 45.4% globally (formerly 50.4%). Its content is widely appreciated, even winning 7 Academy Awards in 2021, the most amongst streaming rivals.
With so many options available, it’s best to try each one at a time and see what best fits your entertainment needs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Netflix’s biggest competitor is arguably Amazon Prime Video. With $25.21 Billion in annual revenue as of 2021 and 200 million subscribers compared to Netflix’s $28.6 Billion and 213 million subscribers, Amazon stands at the top of the Netflix competitors list.
The exact number is unknown, but there are as many as 15 other companies in direct competition with Netflix.
Netflix has an original business model where subscribers enjoy unlimited access to desired content without worrying about late fees or shipping. Up until recently, Netflix was the only platform with all different entertainment options in its catalog, being one service to provide video-on-demand streaming and producing original entertainment content.
It depends on what metric you use to compare streaming services. For example, Disney’s extensive content catalog is unmatched, AppleTV+ is one of the cheapest, HBO has more exclusive content, and Hulu offers a mix of cable TV with streaming. It all depends on your preference when choosing between Netflix competitors.
The top streaming service is Netflix, with the largest market cap globally. However, the alternatives such as HBO Max and Disney Plus are quickly closing the gap.
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While Damjan started his career in humanities, his interests quickly moved on to the tech and IT world. VPNs, antiviruses, firewalls, password managers - cybersecurity is what he knows best. When Damjan’s not losing hair over the dwindling of our collective sense of tech safety, you’ll find him looking for solace in 100-hour-long RPGs and rage-inducing MOBAs.