Chart of the Week: Who is Winning the Mobile Video App War?

Streaming video services are bulking up their war chests in an effort to attract more consumer eyeballs (and subscription fees). Some of the biggest players from Disney to Apple have signaled their intent to make a big push into streaming video content in the next year, and they’ve already committed significant resources to the cause. In the past month alone, Disney announced it was pulling its content from Netflix as it prepares to launch its own online offerings, and Netflix fired back by poaching by hit show creator Shonda Rimes from ABC (a Disney-owned company) and announcing it plans to spend $7 billion on content next year. And not to be left out of the content game, Apple announced plans to spend $1 billion on original programming in 2018. While this all sets the stage for a contentious streaming video landscape in the next few years, what does the current video ecosystem look like?

Which Streaming Video App Attracts the Longest Viewing Sessions?

With their big investments into content, it’s clear that some of the biggest video content providers aren’t just focused on user numbers: they’re after user attention and loyalty. So instead of taking a look at sheer monthly unique users, instead Verto Analytics took a look at three of the leading video streaming apps: Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, to see which app garners the longest session durations – and, by extension, signals higher levels of consumer attention.

The clear winner is Netflix: the average session duration for their app is more than 15 minutes, nearly two minutes longer than Hulu’s average and far ahead of YouTube’s 9 minute average. However, online video audiences are a fickle bunch, and Netflix users don’t necessarily stick to just Netflix. In fact, Verto Analytics data shows that the average Netflix app user (that is, a consumer who launched the Netflix app on their smartphone for at least 6 minutes in the course of a month) engages in an average of about 26 device sessions* per day, and of those, used Netflix in 2.83 of device sessions, but also used Hulu in 2.65 device sessions, and YouTube in 2.3 device sessions.

*Device session: A device session is a series of app (and web, if applicable) sessions carried out on a single device with no longer than five minutes in between the end of one app session and start of the next. Multiple app/web sessions can occur within a single device session.

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