Top Streaming Apps Sept 2023: The Rise of Ad-Supported Streaming

FreeVee and Plex are leading the ad-supported streaming charge. Peacock is gearing up for the 2023 college football season following a massive new partnership with the Big Ten. Netflix remains dominant despite a down month.

Time for the September 2023 edition of our monthly streaming app roundup! Each month, we cover trends among the top iOS, Android, and Roku streaming apps available on the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Roku Channel Store. Come here for monthly updates on the top performing apps, download trends, monthly active user (MAU) insights, and more!

Here’s what we covered this month (click the links to jump to the corresponding section):

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Current Standings: iOS, Android, and Roku

To get things started, let’s look at the top streaming apps globally heading into the month of September: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Max, Paramount+, Hulu, Peacock TV, Plex, and FreeVee.

For the iOS and Android rankings, we compiled the standings by looking at the total number of downloads in the period between August 1st, 2023 and September 1st, 2023. We also included the previous month (July 1st, 2023 - August 1st, 2023) for the sake of comparison.

As for the Roku apps, while we haven’t released our Roku download estimates just yet, we used total historical app ratings as a proxy for app popularity.

With that, let’s look at the rankings. Beginning with…

iOS Downloads: August 1, 2023 - September 1, 2023

Here, we’ve ranked the top iOS streaming apps based on downloads. The light blue line indicates downloads from the period between August 1st and September 1st, while the dark blue line indicates downloads from the preceding month (July 1st - August 1st).

As you can see, August was a mixed bag for many of these apps. Netflix, which led the way with 14,674,371 downloads on the Apple App Store, had fewer downloads than in the previous month (15,169,018). As did Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Plex. Check it out:

  • Amazon Prime Video: 8,533,138 downloads (9,159,441 in August)
  • Disney+: 6,731,598 downloads (6,427,932 in August)
  • Max: 3,957,492 downloads (3,837,568 in August)
  • Paramount+: 1,348,304 downloads (1,306,303 in August)
  • Peacock TV: 954,880 downloads (848,446 in August)
  • Hulu: 895,069 downloads (960,600 in August)
  • Plex: 713,668 downloads (742,556 in August)
  • Amazon FreeVee: 312,490 downloads (288,005 in August)

Android Downloads: August 1, 2023 - September 1, 2023

Just like the iOS apps, the top Android streaming apps had an uneven performance. Once again, Netflix had far and away the most downloads (26,316,696), but numbers were down substantially from the previous month (30,181,968). Likewise, Amazon Prime Video, MAX, FreeVee, and Hulu came down from stronger July numbers. See here:

  • Amazon Prime Video: 9,045,837 downloads (10,634,059 in August)
  • Disney+: 8,939,702 downloads (6,476,440 in August)
  • Plex: 1,572,375 downloads (1,333,540 in August)
  • Max: 1,544,896 downloads (2,484,192 in August)
  • Paramount+: 1,452,808 downloads (1,264,439 in August)
  • Peacock TV: 773,037 downloads (388,997 in August)
  • Amazon FreeVee: 502,035 downloads (523,949 in August)
  • Hulu: 466,595 downloads (513,643 in August)

Roku Ratings: All-Time

Now let’s take a look at how these apps performed on the Roku Channel Store. Here, we focused on total user ratings. Netflix leads the way with 3,733,560 ratings, which is more than three times as many as Hulu. See here:

  • Hulu: 1,026,916 ratings
  • Amazon Prime Video: 912,821 ratings
  • Disney+: 438,094 ratings
  • Max: 376,518 ratings
  • Paramount+: 237,348 ratings
  • Peacock TV: 160,041 ratings
  • Plex: 141,797 ratings
  • Amazon FreeVee: 31,571 ratings

Plex ranked 4th among Android streaming apps

Last month we asked “What the heck is Plex?”, noting that the lesser-known ad-supported VOD streaming service was beginning to make a name for itself in the app market.

Indeed, in the month of July it was the 5th most downloaded Android streaming app and the 8th most downloaded iOS streaming app. This month, it improved on these numbers. Not only did it maintain its #8 ranking on the App Store, it also moved ahead of HBO’s MAX to claim the #4 spot on Google Play. Not too shabby.

As for monthly active users (MAUs), things just keep getting better. Here are the usage trends among Android users through the month of July:

In just one month (between June and July), Plex added some 800,000 new users, climbing from 2,413,443 to 3,279,288.

But Plex isn’t the only ad-supported offering that’s gaining traction.

Amazon’s FreeVee outperformed Hulu on Google Play

Just like Plex, FreeVee is a free, ad-supported offering. Originally launched in 2019 as IMDb TV, it recently scored big on a show called Jury Duty and has been growing in popularity ever since. In fact, not only did it surpass Hulu on Google Play last month, it’s Android MAUs are growing at a truly impressive clip, surpassing 369,751 in the month of July:

All eyes on Peacock as Big Ten football kicks off

Finally we turn to NBC’s Peacock. While the platform has struggled in recent months, it had a really strong August. It increased month-over-month (MoM) iOS downloads from 848,446 to 954,880 and MoM Android downloads from 388,997 to 773,037. And more downloads are likely on the way!

NBC recently announced a massive seven-year media partnership with the Big Ten athletic conference. The broadcaster will pay $350 million a year for up to 16 football games a season, many of which will be presented exclusively on Peacock. To get the ball rolling, NBC placed the No. 2 ranked Michigan Wolverines’ season opener against the East Carolina Pirates exclusively on the OTT platform.

So, with college football season officially underway, keep an eye on Peacock to pick up quite a few new subscribers.

Final Thoughts

Netflix still leads the pack, but ad-supported offerings are beginning to make their presence known. Amazon’s FreeVee is growing at an impressive clip, while Plex continues to rank highly among Android streamers.

Also, keep an eye on Peacock as college football picks up. Despite recent struggles, they’re well positioned to close the year on a high note.

Going forward, we’ll be monitoring changes in this space. So, be on the lookout for future iterations of our streaming app roundup!

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