Black woman watching TV

The top 10 US streaming services (2022 edition)

Last year, I wrote about the 10 most popular American streaming services. Since then, a few things have changed. A few services have reported significant growth. Meanwhile, Netflix’s first subscriber decline in a decade has sent the streaming giant (and its shareholders) scrambling.

Below, I take a look at the top 10 US streaming services.

Criteria

TV remote
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

My criteria:

  • All the figures are based on total worldwide subscribers.
  • I’m only looking at services that mainly or only serve the United States.
  • Amazon Prime Video’s numbers are for the Prime service as a whole.
  • I’ve left out YouTube Premium, as it’s not really comparable to the other services. Its main appeal at this point is offering extra YouTube features (ad-free playback, background playback) and the YouTube Music service. The few originals it offers have either been canceled or shifted to other services (see: “Cobra Kai” moving to Netflix).
  • Numbers are from Wikipedia as of May 22, 2022.

The top 10 US streaming services

Rank Service Number of subscribers (in millions)
1 Netflix 221.6
2 Amazon Prime Video 175
3 Disney+ 137.7
4 HBO Max 76.8
5 Hulu 45.6
6 Paramount+ 39.6
7 Apple TV+ 33.6
8 Peacock 28
9 Discovery+ 24
10 Curiosity Stream 23

Observations

Netflix streaming service playing Hotel Transylvania
Image by Andrés Rodríguez from Pixabay

For years, the “Big Three” streaming services were Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. However, things have changed with the “streaming wars” bringing a rise in rival services. On top of that, Hulu is now mostly owned by Disney. The current three biggest services are Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+.

The fourth place service, HBO Max, doesn’t come near Disney+ in subscribers. HBO Max’s figures include HBO cable channel subscribers; however, since almost all of those customers are also allowed access to HBO Max, it’s probably a moot distinction.

In fifth place is Hulu, which (for now) still eclipses the newer upstarts like Apple TV+ and Peacock. While Hulu is a US-only service, the Disney-owned material is also carried on non-US versions of Disney+, under the “Star” category. Hulu’s also helped by being a part of a discount bundle with Disney+ and ESPN+ (at $14/month), and serving as Disney’s more “adult” service versus Disney+.

Paramount+ seems to be doing OK, for a service that’s been around since 2014 (originally as CBS All Access). Along with some deals, Paramount+ also has “Star Trek,” “Halo,” and some movies to lure in subscribers.

Apple TV+ is more popular than I expected; its carefully curated, minimal back catalog is the opposite of Netflix’s scattershot approach. Then again, one of Apple TV+’s films is this year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, so I guess it’s working?

Peacock also has grown; Variety reports that of its 28 million customers, 13 million are for the paid tiers.  I wonder how many of the 13 million are in my situation: Comcast broadband customers who get Peacock for free.

As for Discovery+, the Warner Bros. Discovery merger leaves some questions up in the air. However, I assume there’ll either be a bundle of HBO Max and Discovery+, or some of Discovery+’s material will get added to HBO Max. Shuttering Discovery+ and folding it into HBO Max could be an option, but it’d probably drive away customers who don’t want to pay for HBO Max.

Finally, Curiosity Stream is pretty popular for a service made up of documentaries. Though its low price probably helps; Curiosity Stream costs $20 a year.

Cost of subscriptions

The cost of subscribing to the top three services (at their most popular service tiers):

  • Netflix: $16
  • Amazon Prime Video: $15
  • Disney+: $8
  • Total: $39

While I wouldn’t advise anyone to do so, the cost of buying all of the top 10 services (again, at their most popular tiers):

  • Netflix: $16
  • Amazon Prime Video: $15
  • Disney+: $8
  • HBO Max: $15
  • Hulu: $7
  • Paramount+: $5
  • Apple TV+: $5
  • Peacock: $5
  • Discovery+: $5
  • Curiosity Stream: $3
  • Total: $84

Most people will be fine with paying for just a handful of services. For example, the cost of the Disney+ bundle (which includes Hulu and ESPN+), along with Netflix and Amazon Prime Video:

  • Netflix: $16
  • Disney+ bundle (with Hulu and ESPN+): $14
  • Amazon Prime Video: $15
  • Total: $45

That would cover the most popular services, and provide more than enough TV for anyone. Alternatively, HBO Max could be substituted for Netflix at about the same price:

  • HBO Max: $15
  • Disney+ bundle: $14
  • Amazon Prime Video: $15
  • Total: $44

Photo by Andres Ayrton from Pexels

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