Video streaming apps in the US and China are seeing high year-over-year revenue growth, while the UK has remained flat, according to an App Annie report focusing on the three “key but very different” markets.
The biggest growth was in China, where revenue was up by a multiple of 9.6 in the 12 month period ending July 2015, partially due to a strong uptake of the iPhone 6: larger screens tend to be correlated with increased video consumption on smartphones, the report notes (click image below to enlarge).
According to the study, China may see even more growth if Alibaba’s subscription video streaming service, Tmall Box Office, is rolled out to mobile.
In the US, revenue went up by a multiple of 3.6, driven by HBO Now and Hulu.
In the UK, however, revenue remained flat, likely due to the structure of its traditional TV industry, where free-to-air networks retain a prominent position.
As for the kinds of streaming apps which top the charts both in terms of revenue and download, the US is dominated by TV/movies (click to enlarge).
China is almost entirely dominated by apps providing multiple content types.
The report says this is an outcome of limited government intervention when compared to regulations faced by the traditional TV industry in the country.
Apps are not only able to distribute niche content like TV shows from India and Thailand, but are able to build a rich portfolio of premium content – like Game of Thrones and the English Premier League.
In the UK, while downloads is dominated by TV/movies, most revenue comes from sports.
When it comes to downloads of the top 10 video streaming apps, China saw a 1.6x increase year-on-year, while US and UK remained flat (click to enlarge).
In the US, top apps by downloads were YouTube, Netflix and Hulu, while by revenue was HBO Now, MLB.com At Bat and Hulu.
The report notes that the popularity of HBO Now and Hulu signals the rise of cord cutting (getting rid expensive cable connections for cheaper alternatives like streaming apps) and unbundling in the US.
Amazon “made a big splash” with two new apps in the US chart – Twitch and Amazon Instant Video.
In China, top downloaded apps tend to also lead in terms of revenue, which is not the same for other countries: the same nine apps – such as Tencent Video and Youku – appeared in both charts.
Unlike China and the US, traditional broadcasters dominated the revenue charts in the UK – with Sky Sports Mobile TV and ITV Player taking the top two spots.
The report notes that in the UK, the scope of monetisation is limited by the BBC’s license payer funding model.
Sports focused apps made up seven of the top ten apps in the UK revenue chart, with US sports leagues having a notable presences including NFL Game Pass and UFC.
This could be because a lot of sporting events are only available on pay TV channels, driving viewers to streaming options.
There is a lot of diversity across the three markets and only YouTube and Netflix appear in the charts for all three.
The report concludes that the streaming app space “will continue to evolve thanks to a variety of factors like cord cutting, emergence of new entrants, demand for niche content and the rise of esports”.
What’s more, the lines that differentiate content providers will continue to blur at they evolve, in order to maximise share of viewing time.
For instance, Netflix and Amazon are now creating original content while networks like HBO and Showtime are launching standalone services.
The study also said that differences in the types of content delivered by the top apps across countries shows the need for a localised approach.