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When it comes to streaming video, Netflix is undeniably on top, with both an edge on all of its competition and projections for steady growth over the coming years. That said, there is one area in which Netflix can't quite keep up with YouTube, and it's an area that probably isn't going to be shifting any time soon. YouTube is by far on top of the video streaming game when it comes to total users.
YouTube can boast 186 million viewers this year, according to numbers from eMarketer (via Forbes), which accounts for 95.9% of streaming video users. Projections indicate that YouTube could hit 198.7 million viewers and 96.4% by 2020. To compare, Netflix can currently only claim 139 million users. Admittedly, 139 million is still a huge number, and it certainly beats the 96.5 million viewers at Amazon and the 35.8 million viewers at Hulu, but it's far less than the 186 million achieved by YouTube. Score for YouTube!
That said, the folks at Netflix probably aren't too worried about how many more total viewers YouTube gets per year. Netflix is a Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) service, which means that users have to pay to stream its videos. Aside from YouTube Red, YouTube is a free service, and so it's a different sort of competition for Netflix. Yes, Netflix would probably love to be the leader in total users, but I imagine that the head honchos over there are probably happy enough knowing that Netflix is still well above other SVOD services like Amazon and Hulu.
Interestingly, there is another category in which YouTube and Netflix are the top two services. A report earlier this year indicated that Netflix generated 35.2% of all downstream online streaming video traffic in 2016 in the ranking of the top ten most popular sites. YouTube came in second with 17.5% of traffic, which is less than half of what Netflix claims, although it does beat Amazon's 4.3%, iTunes 2.9%, and Hulu's 2.7% by a wide margin.
Predictions indicate that Netflix will likely have a tally of 128 million viewers by the end of 2017, which is a 6.6% bump over 2016. That amount of growth would be impressive, but I doubt that it will be enough -- even with other sites providing competition to YouTube -- to take the top prize for total viewers away from YouTube. We'll have to wait and see, but I know that my money is on YouTube remaining on top.
Of course, the Streaming Video On Demand game may change even further once YouTube launches its SVOD package that will all consumers to stream live TV. The streaming video market is getting more and more interesting lately, so be sure to stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest in streaming news.