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Global streaming is not a three-way race

Protocol Entertainment

Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Friday, we’re taking a look at global app charts in search of apps you may have never heard of. Plus: what to read, watch and play this weekend.

The biggest apps you’ve never heard of

We’ve all gotten accustomed to the idea that the streaming wars are a series of battles between four or five big players. Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max and Amazon Prime continue to dominate the news cycle, making it easy to forget that there’s a whole world of apps and services out there that are seeing equally impressive levels of usage.

This week,, the company formerly known as App Annie, issued its State of Media & Entertainment Report that serves as a good reminder that all those other services out there.

Some apps that aren’t in the mainstream dominate entire regions or demographics. Crunchyroll, for instance, is among the most popular streaming apps used by Gen Zers across all countries included in’s measurements, with the exception of South Korea and Japan, where its service has strong homegrown competition.

  • The most-likely used app among millennials in the United States? Redbox, followed by Plex.
  • U.S. baby boomers and Gen Xers tend to favor the TV Guide app, followed by DirecTV. only measures mobile app downloads and usage, which explains why Netflix wasn’t among the top apps in the aforementioned category: Most people prefer to use Netflix on their TVs.

  • Netflix does have the largest global footprint among video streaming platforms, according to, and has clocked more than 1 million mobile app downloads in over 60 countries.
  • Netflix is also the streaming app with the most monthly active users worldwide, but it is defending that spot against an unexpected competitor. Ranked second is MX Player, a streaming app that’s huge in India, but virtually unknown in most Western markets.
  • Other notable members of the global MAU Top 10 club include India’s JioTV and ZEE5, underscoring why India is so important to Netflix.

There are also some surprises outside of the world of video. Take music, for example. The most popular music and audio app in the world by downloads has long been Spotify.

  • For a long time, it was followed by YouTube Music. That changed in 2021, when China-based Resso climbed to the No. 2 spot.
  • Also among the 10 most-downloaded music and audio apps worldwide: JioSaavn, Wynk, Lark Player, Gaana and an app simply called Music Player.
  • Notably absent: Amazon Music, which dropped off the global download charts Top 10 last fall.
  • In the U.S.,’s music and audio download charts are led by Spotify, Pandora and SoundCloud. However, the Top 10 also include free music streaming apps Musi, Audiomack and Current Rewards.

The global audiobook market is also full of surprises, with’s charts featuring a number of companies you’ve probably never heard of.

  • The top global spot for audiobook apps by consumer spend is unsurprisingly being held by Amazon’s Audible.
  • The rest of the list is a potpourri of names likely unfamiliar to U.S. audiences, including China’s Ximalaya, Jordan’s Wajeez and Poland’s Audioteka.

Even when you zero in on the domestic audiobook market, there are a lot of names that may require double-takes.

  • The app with the biggest spend after Audible is Wehear, which focuses on romance and fantasy.
  • Also in the Top 10: Hay House, which is all about self-improvement, Chinese reading app Spiritual Wealth Club, Spanish-language app Beek and 12min, a kind of audiobook version of CliffsNotes.

There are some important lessons in the relative popularity of these lesser-known media apps. One is somewhat obvious: The world is a big place, and we shouldn’t ignore how and what kind of media people consume outside of the United States.

But there's also something to be said about a general lack of brand affinity, even among people in the U.S. If you find the right niche, or the right price point (free is always good), you can get people to install and use a whole bunch of apps, even if those apps compete with seemingly invincible giants like Netflix, Spotify and Audible.

— Janko Roettgers


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TGIF: How to spend your weekend

“Bridgerton” Season 2 — Netflix. The second season of Shondaland’s steamy, Regency-era England show does not disappoint. It returns to London’s illustrious Bridgerton family, but this time, we follow the romance of Anthony Bridgerton, the no-nonsense oldest son and head of the Bridgerton household. He becomes entangled with the Sharma sisters, courting sweet, younger sister Edwina while slowly becoming drawn to headstrong, elder sister Kate. The sisters’ relationship is endearing, the people are beautiful, the costumes are stunning, and the classical arrangement of Madonna’s “Material Girl” is *chef’s kiss*.

This season is less raunchy than the first, which is apparently disappointing to some people. But the slow burn between Anthony and Kate is much more compelling! Full disclosure: I binged all eight episodes on a nine-hour flight. My brain was mush, but it was so worth it.

— Lizzy Lawrence

Tomb Raider: Definitive Survivor Trilogy — PlayStation, Xbox. Crystal Dynamics made my day when it announced that it’s working on the next Tomb Raider game. Well, the announcement was actually that the next game will use Unreal Engine 5, which is cool, but after almost four years since Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I’m ready to see where Lara Croft goes next. No other game details, including launch date, have been released, which means there’s plenty of time to revisit the most recent three games in the series that explore Lara’s origin story.

— Karyne Levy

“Katla” — Netflix. This show has been on Netflix for a few months, but it’s definitely worth another look. “Katla” is the story of a small town in Iceland that has been all but abandoned by its residents due to ongoing volcano activity and the toxic ash storms that go with it. A few hard-headed locals remain, going about their bleak days. Then, one day, an ash-encrusted person appears out of nowhere, raising all kinds of questions and ripping band-aids off old wounds. “Katla” is dark, fascinating and not for the faint of heart.

— Janko Roettgers

“Several People Are Typing” — Calvin Kasulke. For the last two years, workdays have largely been spent within Slack (or Microsoft Teams or Zoom or Google chat). “Several People Are Typing” published last year, but it continues to remain prescient: The entire story takes place within a small PR firm’s Slack workspace. Gerald, the book’s hero, is a midlevel employee who inadvertently uploads his own consciousness to his company’s Slack workspace. Over the course of 256 pages, Gerald must convince his colleagues that he needs help to escape back into the real world. It’s a bizarre book, but one that’s quite relatable: Who among us hasn’t felt like they’ve handed part of their souls to their devices? It’s a quick read, if only because Slack messages are easy by design, but one that will make you ponder — albeit briefly — what it truly means to exist.

— Jane Seidel


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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to Enjoy your day, see you Tuesday.

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