This month’s Verto Index looks at the most popular streaming video services among U.S. adults (ages 18 and over), from YouTube to Spectrum TV. This Index includes audience data on both the websites and, where applicable, mobile apps of the stated video streaming service. We also dig into the most engaging streaming video services – that is, which services attract repeat visitors – and which ones rack up the greatest amounts of user time spent per month – a metric increasingly under scrutiny as online content platforms defend their role in the digital wellbeing of their audiences. Lastly, we compare the top services offered by traditional network television providers to our rankings of digital-first services.
The Ten Most Popular Streaming Video Services
Our analysis of the ten most popular streaming video services (based on monthly unique user numbers) reveals YouTube’s dominance of the landscape: with nearly 198 million monthly unique users and 92% reach, it sits well ahead of its closest rivals, Netflix (73 million monthly unique users and 34% reach) and Hulu (56 million monthly unique users and 26% reach). In addition to providing its flagship free streaming service, YouTube also benefits from the influence and reach of Alphabet, its parent company (which also owns the near-ubiquitous Google). Our list of top-ranking video streaming services also reveals the importance of digital-first brands. Spectrum TV is the sole offering in our top ten list that was created by a traditional cable provider, Charter Communications. But with just over 17 million monthly unique users and 8% reach, it still pales in comparison to the other services in our rankings.
Which Video Streaming Services Are the Most Engaging?
Stickiness is how Verto calculates audience engagement with a given digital property, by calculating how likely a user is to return to a given service day after day – a higher stickiness rating indicates a higher level of user engagement. Our analysis of the five stickiest streaming video services again reveals YouTube’s influence: at 40% stickiness, it’s the stickiest streaming video service on our chart, and is followed by YouTube Kids (28% stickiness), its product for underage viewers. BET – a cable channel owned by Viacom – comes it third; its 24% stickiness rating places it well ahead of digital-first rivals like Netflix (19% stickiness) and Twitch (17% stickiness).
How Much Time Do Audiences Spend with Streaming Video?
Besides engagement, the amount of time that an average viewer spends on streaming video services is also a key metric for gauging the popularity and success of a particular streaming service. We looked at the five streaming services that draw the highest amount of time spent per user. According to Verto data, YouTube and YouTube Kids rack up some of the highest amounts of time spent per user: the average viewer spends 11.25 hours a month with YouTube, and more than 10.25 hours per month with YouTube Kids. BET is also successful at grabbing and keeping audience attention: its viewers spend neatly 10.5 hours per month with the service. What’s more, the average BET session duration is nearly thirty minutes long – or the length of a standard television show, implying that BET’s audiences may be watching complete shows or series. From there, viewing time drops sharply: the average Netflix viewer spends just over four hours per month with the service, while Comcast Xfinity users spend an average of just two hours and 40 minutes per month with the service – or just forty minutes per week.
Can Network TV Keep Up?
As the long-running cord cutter debate continues, TV networks and cable channels have taken a variety of approaches towards retaining existing audiences and attracting new viewers on traditional and digital platforms. We looked at which establishment TV and cable networks continue to garner the biggest digital audiences through their streaming services. ABC (owned by the Disney Company) is the frontrunner, with nearly 15 million monthly unique visitors, while CBS racks up 12.4 million monthly users and BET draws 11.4 million monthly unique visitors. As previously discussed, BET also boasts the highest stickiness ratings for a cable television provider – its 24% stickiness rating is nearly five times higher than that of ABC, PBS, or the History Channel.