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Netflix popularity reaches new heights

A new report by RBC Capital Markets found more than half of Americans use the SVOD service to watch movies and TV, marking a record high.
November 24, 2015

More than half of Americans rely on Netflix to watch movies and TV series, a figure that marks a record high among users the SVOD service and pushes it ahead of top competitors YouTube, Amazon and Hulu, according to a new survey by RBC Capital Markets.

The survey, released this month, is the the 17th time RBC has polled U.S. audiences on their Netflix habits since 2011. This time, the bank questioned 1,077 respondents across the country, with 50% of those surveyed current Netflix subscribers and another 15% past subscribers.

Among the key findings, pollsters found 51% of respondents used Netflix in the past 12 months, the highest level RBC has ever tracked. The previous usage record of 50% was set in May 2015.

By comparison, a study conducted two years ago, in November 2013, found a user rate of 44%.

Pollsters noted the new user rates put the SVOD giant once again ahead of its competitors in the streaming space.

Netflix has surpassed YouTube in six out of eight of RBC’s past surveys, but, in the last quarter, it had slipped behind the Google-owned platform. In an August 2015 poll, for instance, Netflix landed one point lower than YouTube.

This quarter, however, Netflix was a full three points ahead of YouTube (51% vs. 48%, respectively), a move RBC analysts suggest may be linked to the increasing value of the SVOD’s original content library.

Usage of Amazon has also steadily been rising, but still falls far short of Netflix’s market reach. The report measured 26% of respondents tuned into Amazon in November compared to 25% in August.

But the survey suggests Netflix is wise not to underestimate the competition, noting that Amazon, which also offers a robust originals line-up, likely poses the biggest long-term risk to Netflix’s dominance. According to analsysts, Amazon’s popularity has grown over the past two years from 20% in August 2013 to 26% now.

Meanwhile, Hulu’s market reach was measured at 23% in the latest survey, marking an overall decline in Hulu popularity from a high of 28% in May 2014.

Despite the growth noted in the survey, in October Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings admitted the company had fallen short of its target growth rate of 1.15 million new subscribers in the U.S. in Q3. Over the quarter, the SVOD instead added 880,000 new subscribers over the quarter, for a total of 43.18 million. Outside the U.S., however, global net subscriber additions totaled 2.74 million, well above the 2.40 million Q3 forecast.

In all, the service has more than 70 million global subscribers, making it the largest SVOD in the world. A survey released in May by Cowen and Company suggested that total number will continue to soar, reaching a potential 103.5 million subscribers worldwide by 2020.

RBC Capital Markets analysts predict the number of U.S. users will continue to trend up incrementally as Netflix adds to its library of original and licensed content and an increasingly larger percentage of the population embraces streaming video.



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