Streaming, whether video or audio, is an unstoppable force these days. The decade that ran from 2010 to 2020 witnessed the rise of a new industry thanks to massive technological improvement, including mass adoption of smartphones and mobile apps. These days, for many, the thought of subscribing to cable TV or listening to broadcast radio seems archaic.
Statistics highlight the exponential growth of the on-demand subscription video industry in the United States. According to Statista, revenues in 2011 totalled $1.6 billion. In 2019, this number rose to an astonishing $16 billion.
Worldwide, Android is the preferred mobile platform amongst smartphone owners, and it should come as no surprise that streaming is popular. Here are the top-grossing apps in the streaming space on Android devices.
HBO Max is the number one grossing app in the video streaming category. It ranks at #11 within the broader entertainment category, which includes popular mobile gaming apps. Its popularity reflects users’ appetite for the kind of high-quality programming for which its parent HBO is famous.
Famously, the network charges premium subscription fees to provide ad-free viewing experiences, betting that subscribers will pay more for premium content. Max’s birth was troubled to say the least. Originally slated for release in May 2019, the app was finally launched a year later, in May 2020, in the middle of the COVID pandemic.
After an initial struggle, Max gained ground on its well-established competitors Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. While it lags in the rankings across many platforms, Max is extremely popular with Android users worldwide, despite being officially available only in the US. There are two possible reasons for this.
First, HBO Max has a considerable library of iconic movies and current releases that its competitors lack. Many of these movies are popular around the world, and this explains the number of Android downloads. Second, Max’s popularity worldwide can be explained by VPN usage and the ability to load its Android SDK independently on a device.
Thus, unlike other apps that manage to restrict users geographically, Max users navigate around this complexity. It remains to be seen how HBO deals with this situation and which shows will drive the app’s popularity in the future.
Fall 2019 witnessed the launch of Disney+, and it immediately made an impact. Aside from the unintendedly perfect timing of its launch before the COVID pandemic confined people to their homes, Disney relied on its vast network of IP-driven content to make a splash.
Disney+ ranks #7 in the broad entertainment category in the Google Play store in the United States. It maintains this high ranking worldwide, coming in at #7 in Canada and Germany and #9 in the United Kingdom. Viewed broadly, Disney+ is another cog in Disney’s unstoppable media machine.
Famous for segmenting its audiences precisely, Disney targets viewers of all ages through a mix of nostalgia, big releases, and animated content. The launch of Disney+ was accompanied by a slate of announcements indicating content releases from across the Disney family, including Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel, and older Walt Disney Studios intellectual property.
Given its vast library, Disney can afford to slow the pace of show development and focus on quality. It can also afford a few duds. For instance, HBO Max experienced a slowdown thanks to the bland final season of its popular Game of Thrones show. Disney+ can draw from a larger library to replace popular shows and overcome fan discontent.
The app’s popularity on Android is a result of Disney’s worldwide audience focus. From characters like Mulan to Mickey Mouse to Shang-Chi, the app hosts content centered around characters with whom almost every person in the world can identify. Given Android’s greater market share worldwide compared to iOS, Disney+ was bound to experience many downloads.
There are no signs of Disney+ slowing down, with movie releases and exciting new shows slated for release.
The music, radio, and podcast streaming app Pandora comes is the 27th most downloaded app in the United States on the Play Store. Thanks to its audio-oriented focus, it ranks #2 behind Spotify in the music and audio category.
Pandora is unique amongst the top-grossing apps since it derives the majority of its revenue from advertising. While video streaming apps generally eschew ads in favor of higher subscription fees backed by quality content, audio apps such as Pandora integrate ads seamlessly into their content.
Podcasts are a good example of how ads integrate into a great listening experience. Hosts typically broadcast ads in the beginning, middle, and end of their program, and time content pauses to sync with sponsor shoutouts. The result is an almost uninterrupted listening experience that audiences appreciate.
According to Statista, Pandora sourced over $1 billion in ad revenue in 2020, a slight drop from the $1.2 billion it posted in 2019. Like Disney, Pandora offers content to a worldwide audience which automatically increases its popularity with an Android audience.
Despite facing local competition in every market, Pandora’s combination of great podcasts, music, and shows has proved to be unbeatable.
Once upon a time, playing video games was a sign of laziness. Today, it’s an industry unto itself, and Twitch has monopolized the space. From offering live-stream gameplay to online communities dedicated to users’ favorite games, Twitch is the place to be if you’re a gamer.
The pandemic confined people to their homes, and this led to an increase in gaming adoption. Thanks to technology and accessory services such as Discord, gaming is more popular than ever, and Twitch has cashed in. A cursory look at the Play Store’s most popular downloads will reveal a list of games.
Users who wish to improve their gameplay experience head to Twitch. Professional gamers on Twitch use the platform to seek job opportunities and entries to lucrative gaming tournaments. The rise of eSports such as Soccer, Madden (American football), and Formula One (racing) has increased Twitch’s popularity with gamers.
Thanks to mobile gaming on Android accounting for the majority of users’ time, live streaming gameplay on Twitch is a no-brainer. The mobile gaming revolution is showing no signs of slowing down, and Twitch’s monopoly in the sector remains unchallenged.
All of these apps face challenges, but there’s no doubt that their top position in streaming will persist for a while.