Which Streaming Service Has the Most Subscriptions?
Which Streaming Service Has The Most Subscriptions?
Many companies have launched a streaming service over the past few years, trying to capitalize on the digital media shift and launching the so-called “streaming wars.”
After Netflix grew from a small DVD-rental company to a household name, every media company from Disney to Apple saw recurring revenues ripe for the taking. Likewise, the audio industry has long-since accepted Spotify’s rise to prominence, as streaming has become the de facto method of consumption for many.
But it was actually the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic that solidified the foothold of digital streaming, with subscription services seeing massive growth over the last year. Although it was expected that many new services would flounder along the way, media subscription services saw wide scale growth and adoption almost across the board.
We’ve taken the video, audio, and news subscription services with 5+ million subscribers to see who came out on top—and who has grown the most quickly—over the past year. Data comes from the FIPP media association as well as individual company reports.
Streaming Service Giants: Netflix and Amazon
The top of the streaming giant pantheon highlights two staples of business: the first-mover advantage and the power of conglomeration.
With 200+ million global subscribers, Netflix has capitalized on its position as the first and primary name in digital video streaming. Though its consumer base in the Americas has begun to plateau, the company’s growth in reach (190+ countries) and content (70+ original movies slated for 2021) has put it more than 50 million subscribers ahead of its closest competition.
The story is the same in the audio market, where Spotify’s 144 million subscriber base is more than double that of Apple Music, the next closest competitor with 68 million subscribers.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s position as the second most popular video streaming service with 150 million subscribers might be surprising. However, Prime Video subscriptions are included with membership to Amazon Prime, which saw massive growth in usage during the pandemic.
|Service||Type||Subscribers (Q4 2020)|
|Amazon Prime Video||Video||150.0M|
|Amazon Prime Music||Audio||55.0M|
|Tencent Music (Group)||Audio||51.7M|
|New York Times||News||6.1M|
Another standout is the number of large streaming services based in Asia. China-based Tencent Video (also known as WeTV) and Baidu’s iQIYI streaming services both crossed 100 million paid subscribers, with Alibaba’s Youku not far behind with 90 million.
Disney Leads in Streaming Growth
But perhaps most notable of all is Disney’s rapid ascension to the upper echelons of streaming service giants.
Despite Disney+ launching in late 2019 with a somewhat lackluster content library (only one original series with one episode at launch), it has quickly rocketed both in terms of content and its subscriber base. With almost 95 million subscribers, it has amassed more subscribers in just over one year than Disney expected it could reach by 2024.
|Service||Type||Percentage Growth (2019)|
|Amazon Prime Video||Video||100.0%|
|Amazon Prime Music||Audio||71.9%|
|Tencent Music (Group)||Audio||66.8%|
|New York Times||News||60.5%|
The Disney+ wave also spurred growth in partner streaming services like Hotstar and ESPN+, while other services with smaller subscriber bases saw large growth rates thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lingering question is how the landscape will look when the pandemic starts to wind down, and when all the new players are accounted for. NBCUniversal’s Peacock, for example, has reached over 30 million subscribers as of January 2021, but the company hasn’t yet disclosed how many are paid subscribers.
Likewise, competitors are investing in content libraries to try and make up ground on Netflix and Disney. HBO Max is slated to start launching internationally in June 2021, and ViacomCBS rebranded and expanded CBS All Access into Paramount+.
And international growth is vital. Three of the top six video streaming services by subscribers are based in China, while Indian services Hotstar, ALTBalaji, and Eros Now all saw surges in subscriber bases, with more room left to grow.
Ranked: The Best Selling Video Games in History
This chart shows the top ten best selling video games, ranked by software units sold. Six of them have been released in the last 12 years.
Ranked: The Best Selling Video Games in History
It’s a good time to be a video game fan. Not only is the gaming industry booming and projected to grow to $320 billion by 2026, but every year is bringing new evolutions in the medium.
2022 saw massive launches in both games (Elden Ring and God of War Ragnarök) and media based on games (the films Uncharted and Sonic the Hedgehog 2). 2023 has already seen the release of major flagship TV series based on a game, HBO’s The Last of Us, and the much-anticipated The Super Mario Bros. Movie is slated to release in April.
But which game is the best, or most successful? That debate may never end, but from company reports and sales data aggregated by Wikipedia, Samuel Parker’s chart of the most-sold video games as of March 3, 2023 can at least tell us which ones have been the most popular.
Top Ten Video Games Sold in History
The best selling video game didn’t need multimillion dollar budgets, sixty-hour narratives, or celebrity voice actors and ad spots. The independently-developed (indie) Minecraft, with its pixelated blocks, takes the top spot on this list.
|Rank||Game||Sales (units)||Year Released||Developer|
|3||Tetris (EA)||100.0M||2006||EA Mobile|
|5||PUBG: Battlegrounds||75.0M||2017||PUBG Corp|
|6||Mario Kart 8||60.5M||2014||Nintendo|
|7||Super Mario Bros.||58.0M||1985||Nintendo|
|8||Read Dead Redemption 2||50.0M||2018||Rockstar|
Minecraft sold more units than the combined forces of Grand Theft Auto 5 (#2) and Red Dead Redemption 2 (#8), both made by industry giant Rockstar. Its immense popularity has been credited to its simple gameplay (no goals), creative structure (build anything), and engaged community with player-run servers and additional feature creations (known as mods).
Another simple favorite, Tetris, comes in at third place with 100 million units sold of its 2006 re-release. Millennials continue to make up a large chunk of the video game playing demographic which might explain Tetris’ sales.
But newer games are making up the majority of sales records. PUBG: Battlegrounds, a battle-royale shooter game which helped popularize the genre (and eventually its competitor Fortnite) asserts its popularity at #5. That puts it well ahead of the better-known shooter Call of Duty, even despite PUBG being banned in a number of countries for the alleged impact on the mental health of gamers.
The oldest game to make the list is Super Mario Bros. (#7), apt considering it is credited with reviving the video game industry after it crashed in 1983. The original staple side-scroller has sold 58 million copies worldwide.
Though the top selling games span various series of games, a few developers managed to repeatedly find success.
|Developer||Top 20 Best-Selling Games|
Japanese video game titan Nintendo developed three games (Super Mario Bros., Mario Kart, Wii Sport/Fitness) in the top 10 and another eight in the top 20. That’s not including its co-ownership of Pokémon, the world’s highest-grossing media franchise.
American publisher Rockstar Games also managed to score multiple hits, though its longer development cycle necessary to create cinematic games gives it fewer potential candidates. That might change with the much-anticipated GTA 6 reportedly in production.
Best Selling Genres
The most popular genres in the top 10 give players the freedom to impose their will upon the world and pursue objectives at their leisure:
Two games (Minecraft, Terraria) are classic sandbox games, where worlds are procedurally generated and there are no gameplay goals. Another two (GTA 5, Red Dead Redemption 2) are in the adjacent open-world genre, with a combination of sandbox elements and a narrative structure.
However, with new games launching and selling millions of units every year, new entrants to the top 10 list of best selling video games of all-time seems likely. How will these developers, genres, and games fare over time?
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