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Netflix, YouTube Share of U.S. Viewing Time Projected to Drop in 2020

Netflix and YouTube are still the leaders of the streaming pack — but they’re finally facing some significant rivals that will start carving into the digital-video pie.

The two video giants are expected to continue to be the most-watched video platforms next year, with Netflix remaining No. 1 in the U.S. in terms of time spent viewing followed by YouTube. However, with major new combatants trundling into the streaming wars, their relative share of time spent viewing is projected to dip starting in 2020.

New services like Disney Plus, WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and Apple TV Plus will further fragment the digital video space and erode the dominance of Netflix and YouTube in the years ahead, according to a new forecast from research firm eMarketer.

Both Netflix and YouTube will see their share among U.S. adults begin to decline even as average daily time spent with their respective platforms grows.

In 2020, Netflix will average 29 minutes per day among all U.S. adults, up 6% from this year, and that’s anticipated to rise to 30 minutes by 2021. At the same time, Netflix’s share of daily video time will peak in 2019 at 27% and will decline to 26.4% next year and 25.7% by 2021, the researcher predicts.

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“Even though Americans are spending more time watching Netflix, people’s attention will become more divided as new streamers emerge,” eMarketer analyst Ross Benes said. “The video streaming landscape will get crowded, which will drive down the share of time that people devote to Netflix.”

Similarly, YouTube’s share of total daily digital video time will drop from 23.4% this year to 22.4% in 2020 and 21.7% by 2021. Average time spent viewing YouTube among American adults will tick up from about 23 minutes this year to 24 minutes in 2020.

For now, eMarketer is publishing only projected usage and share of viewing time for Netflix and YouTube, not for other video services like Disney Plus or HBO Max.

The expected share shifts come as video overall takes up a bigger chunk of Americans’ time: In 2020, U.S. adults will spend an an average estimated 108 minutes daily watching digital video, up 8% year over year and a 20% increase versus 2018, according to eMarketer estimates. All told, 2019 is the first year in which digital video will make up more than one-quarter (25.4%) of all daily digital time spent on apps and browsers across devices (excluding social networks) in the U.S., per eMarketer.

New York-based eMarketer, a division of Axel Springer, says its forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from multiple sources, including other research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies.

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