STREAMING SATURDAY: Is Netflix Slipping?

As the streaming services continue to battle for market share, it appears that the crown has begun to slip from Netflix’s head.

While Netflix remains the most popular streaming service, its position has been on a steady decline. This is the result of a recent study done by Digitalsmiths, makers of a video discovery platform and business console for connected devices. The company studied the streaming viewing habits of 3,140 people. From its study, the folks at Digitalsmiths determined the popularity of today’s top streaming options. While Netflix is still on top, the predicts a possible future decline for the streaming services provider.

Here are Digitalsmiths’ percentages of those who use – though not necessarily pay for – the variety of streaming service providers:

  • Netflix: 51.8 percent
  • Amazon Prime Video: 24.8 percent
  • Hulu: 9.9 percent
  • HBO NOW: 5.2 percent
  • YouTube Red: 3.1 percent
  • CBS All Access: 2.1 percent
  • Sling TV: 1.7 percent
  • PlayStation Vue: 1.6 percent

According to Digitalsmiths’ study, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu remain unchanged in their gold, silver, and bronze rankings. What is different is each of the streaming service’s rankings in market share. During the second quarter of 2016, Netflix’s had 53.7 percent of the market share. It dropped to 51.8 percent in the third quarter, according to the study. This decrease is in sharp contrast to the steady growth Netflix experience from 41.7 percent in 2013 to its 53.7 percent in the second quarter of this year. By comparison, Amazon Prime’s numbers are on the rise from 12.9 percent market share in 2013 to 24.8 percent this year.

Netflix’s decline comes as no surprised to my colleague, Stuart Sweet. In a July 5, 2016 opinion piece, Stuart lists his reasons for Netflix’s fall. These issues included the following:

  • A mistake in the AppleTV app. The large image previews and compressed list of content made the AppleTV Netflix experience less than desirable for anything more than a casual browsing experience.
  • Netflix left out the ability to search movies by category in its AppleTV app. Users are limited to the use of a voice remote if they want to search movies by category on AppleTV. Stuart tells me that a limited category search is now part of the app, but it’s still not as good as it is on other devices.
  • Netflix ceased making good content suggestions for users, which indicates an issue with its algorithm.
  • A glaring lack of new content to stream, which Stuart identified as Netflix’s biggest problem. Netflix’s habit of shaving its catalog while also raising its prices has upset him and many other viewers.

I have a different opinion about all of this, of course. I question the validity of Digitalsmiths’ study. Is a random sampling of 3,140 people accurate enough to portray the viewing habits of a nation of streaming enthusiasts? And how important is all this market share stuff really? Don’t those things fluctuate on the daily? Of course, I also realize that my mind might not allow me to accept any negative comments about the network that brings me my beloved Stranger Things. So I might not be the most objective person to discuss Netflix’s place in the market.

In the streaming world, Netflix remains king. But for how long? While it seems easy to dismiss Stuart’s issues with the streaming service, I believe the he and other pundits are right. Netflix has some serious issues, both with its pricing policy, selection, and applications in the AppleTV app. And while the network’s dedication to original programming is admirable, a handful of unique shows might not be enough to save it as we move forward. The other streaming services have original programming without all the glitches and stumbles. This could be the deciding factor in the future of the streaming wars.