At this point, Netflix certainly doesn’t need an introduction. It has become synonymous with the streaming category after pivoting away from DVD rentals back in 2007.
Netflix has since grown into one of the world’s biggest media companies, boasting annual revenues of almost $30 billion.
Most of that revenue comes from the more than 223 million people that are subscribed to its service – making it the world’s largest standalone streaming platform by subscriber count.
The firm’s recommendation engine, localization of content, and the immediate release of all episodes to encourage binge-watching have been key pillars of its growth engine.
Its success has enabled Netflix to enter the world of content creation as well. What started out with House of Cards back in 2013 is now a content generation machine that churns out beloved titles like Stranger Things, Squid Game, and many more.
However, due to heightened competition, Netflix has also been forced to adapt its business model. It now offers an ad-supported tier, on top of expansions into gaming and content licensing.
The methodology with which competitors of Netflix are ranked is based on various data points. Information such as the number of subscribers, active countries, funding raised, and anything else in between will be taken into account.
Additionally, we will focus our efforts on Netflix’s streaming division. Competitors from the gaming segment are hereby excluded.
Lastly, indirect competitors, namely cinema operators, movie studios, and video-based social platforms like Snapchat or TikTok will be left out as well.
I want to note that this analysis should not be seen as an endorsement of either service. It is merely a summary of the competition that Netflix faces as of today.
So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the top 15 competitors of Netflix.
Headquarters: Los Angeles, California Founder(s): Disney Year Founded: 2019
Disney+ is far and beyond the fiercest competitor of Netflix. It took the media giant less than 3 years to overtake Netflix. While Disney+ boasts a global subscriber base of 164 million, its associated Hulu and ESPN+ properties elevate that number to over 236 million.
Its growth isn’t particularly surprising given the IP that Disney owns, which includes renowned franchises such as Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars – on top of many classic Disney movies and cartoons.
Disney has taken that IP to more than 60 countries. In some jurisdictions, such as India or Thailand, Disney+ operates under the Hotstar brand.
And although the service continues to burn through cash, it is expected to turn a profit by 2024 thanks to the introduction of an ad-supported tier, price increases, and the integration of a merchandise store.
2. HBO Max
Headquarters: New York City, New York Founder(s): Warner Bros. Discovery Year Founded: 2020
HBO Max, together with HBO and Discovery+, currently boasts a global subscriber base of 92 million people. After their successful merger in March 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery has been quietly merging content across its various networks and platforms.
HBO Max remains the media conglomerate’s crown jewel, though. While HBO continues to produce engaging exclusives like Euphoria, Game of Thrones, and Succession, Warner Bros. adds heavy-hitting franchises like the DC Universe to the mix.
Around 75 percent of the network’s subscribers are coming from the United States, although Warner Bros. Discovery has since expanded its reach to over 40 other territories. Nevertheless, extensive cost-cutting measures at its parent company have also led to the shuttering of multiple projects.
3. Amazon Prime Video
Headquarters: Seattle, Washington Founder(s): Amazon Year Founded: 2006
Prime Video can be accessed as a standalone service or via Amazon’s Prime subscription. The bundling approach has enabled Amazon to amass over 200 million members across the whole globe. Viewers can access over 25,000 movies and TV shows on Prime.
Amazon has since invested substantial dollars into content acquisition and creation. In May 2021, it announced the acquisition of Hollywood studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) for $8.45 billion, thus adding IPs like James Bond and Rocky to its library.
Prime Video has also invested aggressively in content creation, producing titles such as Manchester by the Sea, The Box, Jack Ryan, and most famously The Rings of Power. This also entails sports programming like Thursday Night Football or the UEFA Champions League.
Headquarters: Santa Mónica, California Founder(s): News Corporation, NBC Universal Year Founded: 2007
Hulu, which was established as a joint venture between News Corporation and NBC Universal, initially launched as a free ad-supported alternative to Netflix. It also became the first-ever streaming service to create original programming when it released A Day In The Life back in 2011.
After investors poured $683 million into the company, previous backer Disney acquired Hulu in 2019 as part of its purchase of 21st Century Fox. Comcast currently retains a 33.3 percent stake in Hulu, which Disney is set to buy out by 2024.
The service has since grown to over 47 million subscribers in the U.S. as well as 70,000+ shows and movies. Interestingly, Hulu also allows its members to add on other streaming services like HBO or Showtime, on top of accessing 85+ live news, entertainment, and sports channels.
5. Apple TV+
Headquarters: Cupertino, California Founder(s): Apple Year Founded: 2019
Apple is another tech giant that utilizes its popularity in one category (consumer devices) to carve out a niche for itself in streaming. Given its direct consumer access and large financial war chest, it isn’t particularly surprising that it’s now one of the bigger streaming services out there.
Although Apple isn’t releasing detailed figures for its streaming platform, analysts estimate that it boasts between 20 million and 40 million paying subscribers. Much of this growth came by virtue of aggressive pricing and partnerships with various content distributors.
Apple’s content has also managed to receive some major accolades. Its movie CODA won an Academy Award for Best Picture, the first for a film that was primarily distributed via a streaming platform.
6. YouTube Premium
Headquarters: San Bruno, California Founder(s): YouTube Year Founded: 2014
YouTube Premium enables members of the namesake video platform to watch content without ads and also grants them access to premium YouTube Originals. The original programming on YouTube is normally produced in collaboration with its most popular creators.
The service was initially launched as Music Key but later rebranded as a standalone service to allow YouTube to better promote its music subscription service. YouTube Music and Premium have since managed to reach over 80 million paying subscribers.
YouTube has also utilized a bundling approach by allowing Premium subscribers to access its music streaming service at no additional cost. Additional premium features include the removal of ads, the option to download videos, and being able to play videos while running other apps.
Headquarters: New York City, New York Founder(s): Paramount Global Year Founded: 2014
Paramount+ actually started out as CBS All Access, which became the first streaming service launched by an American broadcast television network. 7 years later, in March 2021, it was rebranded to Paramount+.
Owner ViacomCBS has since managed to add a total of 46 million subscribers to the service. Apart from exclusive content and live TV, bundle partnerships with the likes of Showtime and Walmart+ have been instrumental in growing the OTT platform.
Paramount+ has also quickly expanded its global footprint by expanding into more than 30 countries. Interestingly, Paramount has also taken a page out of Netflix’s growth playbook. The network plans to commission 150 international originals by 2025
8. Rakuten Viki
Headquarters: Singapore Founder(s): Razmig Hovaghimian, Changseong Ho, Jiwon Moon Year Founded: 2007
Rakuten’s Viki streaming service is a popular video-on-demand platform that offers a wide range of TV shows, movies, and other video content. The founders, after raising over $24 million in funding, sold the business to Rakuten in 2013 for an undisclosed sum.
As of December 2021, Viki had over 53 million registered members. The service offers a mix of licensed and original content, with a focus on Asian dramas and other programming. Viki has signed partnerships with a number of major broadcasters and content producers, too.
In addition to licensed content, Viki has also produced its own shows, including the drama series “Dramaworld” and the reality show “We Are All Human”. However, in contrast to Netflix or Disney, it continues to largely rely on licensed content.
One of the key features of Viki is its emphasis on community and user-generated content. The service allows users to add subtitles and other metadata to its videos, creating a more personalized and engaging viewing experience.
Headquarters: New York City, New York Founder(s): NBCUniversal Year Founded: 2020
Peacock is the result of another media powerhouse, in this case NBCUniversal, brute forcing its way into the world of streaming. Apart from 80,000+ hours’ worth of movies and shows, which include heavy hitters like The Office or Parks and Recreation, Peacock users can also access live sports like American Football or the WWE.
The service can either be accessed for free (by watching ads) or through different subscription packages. Peacock currently counts 30 million monthly accounts of which roughly half are considered premium subscribers.
Right now, the service is solely available in the United States. Interestingly, a lot of the original content on the platform, such as Yellowstone, first appears on NBC’s television channels and only hits the streaming platform a day later.
Headquarters: New York City, New York Founder(s): AMC Networks Year Founded: 2020
AMC+ completes the group of OTT streaming services launched by larger media conglomerates. The network’s strategy is predicated on long-term IP ownership as evidenced by the shows it creates, which include hit titles like Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Mad Men, and many more.
The focus on world-building has enabled the service to hit 11 million paying subscribers within less than two years after launching. AMC also entered distribution deals with the likes of Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime to further boost adoption.
International streaming expansion remains a second pillar through which AMC tries to grow the service. Apart from the US, AMC+ is also available in Australia, Canada, Spain, New Zealand, and India.
11. Pluto TV
Headquarters: Los Angeles, California Founder(s): Ilya Pozin, Tom Ryan, Nick Grouf Year Founded: 2013
Pluto TV is the world’s leading ad-supported streaming platform. It offers both on-demand content as well as live TV at no cost. Instead, viewers simply consume video ads before, within, and after the content.
The founders, helmed by CEO Tom Ryan, had decades of experience in media as well as managing their own businesses before starting the company. In fact, Pozin was the one who came up with the initial idea for Pluto TV after struggling to find suitable videos for his two-year-old daughter on YouTube.
Interestingly, Pluto TV only added on-demand content in 2017 after previously relying on live TV only. After raising a little over $51 million in funding, the founders managed to sell Pluto TV to Viacom for $340 million back in 2019.
Today, Pluto TV is widely considered to be the biggest platform of its kind, boasting a user base of 70 million monthly active viewers. It now works together with over 400 content partners such as CBS while being available in 25+ countries.
Headquarters: San Francisco, California Founder(s): Brandon Ooi, James Lin, Kun Gao Year Founded: 2006
Crunchyroll focuses on delivering anime-related content on demand. This doesn’t just include shows and movies but also entails an online store to purchase manga comics, games, clothing, and other gifts, as well as events such as the Crunchyroll Expo or Anime Awards.
The site, which was started by former Berkeley students, has since expanded to over 200 countries across the globe. Crunchyroll currently boasts 1,000 titles and 30,000 episodes of anime content.
Those numbers aren’t particularly surprising if you look at the firm’s ownership history. In 2013, Crunchyroll was sold to The Chernin Group for $100 million. The firm would change hands multiple times, most recently in December 2020 when Sony paid $1.2 billion.
The Japanese technology giant then merged Crunchyroll with Funimation, another anime-based streaming platform. Crunchyroll and Funimation now boast a combined user base of 120 million people, of which 5 million are paying members.
13. Tubi TV
Headquarters: San Francisco, California Founder(s): Farhad Massoudi, Thomas Ahn Hicks Year Founded: 2014
Tubi TV is another ad-supported streaming service, offering both live TV as well as on-demand content. More than 45,000 movies and TV shows (and 100+ TV channels) from more than 400 content partners can now be accessed via the platform.
The company’s vast content library isn’t particularly surprising given that it’s owned by the Fox Corporation, which paid $440 million in March 2020 to acquire Tubi TV. Its founders had managed to accomplish this feat by only raising $26 million in funding prior to that.
However, this is little surprising given that Massoudi and Hicks previously operated a service that enabled connected TV manufacturers to run ads based on real-time bidding.
Tubi TV has now managed to become an integral part of Fox’s revenue mix. The service is expected to hit around $700 million in revenue during the fiscal year 2022. Fox is now investing significant portions of that revenue into developing original programming for Tubi TV.
Headquarters: Ekta Kapoor Founder(s): Mumbai, India Year Founded: 2017
ALTBalaji is India’s third biggest streaming platform after Hotstar (now Disney+ Hotstar) and Netflix. It is a subsidiary of Balaji Telefilms, one of India’s largest TV producers, which was founded by Ekta Kapoor’s mother Shobha.
Naturally, a lot of the content found on ALTBalaji is created by Kapoor’s production company. The content itself is ad-supported. However, paying a subscription fee grants users access to an uninterrupted viewing experience.
Interestingly, ALTBalaji doesn’t just offer on-demand movies and shows. Additionally, viewers can also access music videos and entertainment-related news.
Currently, around 4 million people are subscribed to ALTBalaji’s paid plans. However, the firm continues to burn through cash in an effort to expand that subscriber base.
Headquarters: Johannesburg, South Africa Founder(s): MultiChoice Year Founded: 2015
Showmax is available throughout sub-Saharan Africa, offering both licensed as well as originally produced content. The majority of the site’s content is licensed by other media companies such as HBO.
The service itself is owned by satellite television operator MultiChoice as well as Canal+, which holds a minority stake. Interestingly, MultiChoice has also tried to expand the service into Europe. In 2017, it launched Showmax in Poland only to discard the service two years later.
For now, Showmax continues to mostly battle Netflix and Amazon Prime within Africa. The continent is projected to grow its potential subscriber base to 15 million by 2026. Unfortunately, MultiChoice does currently not disclose subscriber numbers for Showmax but said that the service grew by almost 70 percent in 2022.
Headquarters: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Founder(s): Mark Britt, Patrick Grove Year Founded: 2014
iflix was launched with the intention of becoming the Netflix of Southeast Asia. During its heyday, the platform had amassed over 25 million subscribers. However, this came at a significant cost.
Its founders raised over $300 million in funding and even planned to take the company public on the Australian stock exchange back in 2019.
After not being able to attract additional capital and continuing to burn through millions every month, they decided to sell the business to Chinese tech giant Tencent.
Although many of iflix’s key executives have since departed, the platform continues to operate under Tencent’s WeTV brand in around a dozen countries in Asia. The service offers a free ad-supported as well as a paid tier dubbed VIP.
Given Tencent’s ambitions to expand its own services, it wouldn’t be unfathomable to assume that iflix is eventually going to be merged into the greater Tencent ecosystem.