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Amazon has doubled its performance in a hot market over the last year, and is pulling away from Apple

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos

(Amazon's Jeff BezosChip Somodevilla/Getty)
Streaming video companies like Netflix are notoriously secretive about their numbers, but there are proxy measurements we can use to get a sense of how many people are watching, and Amazon just made a big jump in one of them.

Sandvine has released its latest report that shows what percentage of prime-time internet usage in North America is taken up by different services. Streaming video dominates, with Netflix and YouTube coming in at 35% and 17% respectively.

But what’s more interesting is that Amazon Video continues to creep up the charts, coming in at 4.26% — ahead of both iTunes and Hulu — and over twice what it was a year ago.

The flywheel

Earlier this month, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos extolled the virtues of Amazon’s video offerings, saying they could become a “fourth pillar” of Amazon. He also said they help other parts of Amazon’s business, which could help explain why Amazon is investing heavily in it, with analysts at Bernstein estimating that Amazon spent $2 billion on video content for Prime in 2015.

"When we win a Golden Globe, it helps us sell more shoes,” he explained about Prime Video in particular.

Beyond shoes, Amazon's investment seems to be translating into increased use of Amazon Video as well. Amazon’s video section includes Prime Video, its Netflix competitor, as well as a rental and purchase business that competes with players like iTunes.

Here's how Sandvine says Amazon currently stacks up against the competition:



And here is what the same research looked like a year ago:



Amazon Video has more than doubled its downstream usage percentage in the last year, from 1.97% to 4.26%, and is up from Sandvine's last measurement in December (3.11%). And Amazon has pulled away from both Hulu and iTunes.

iTunes is particularly significant, since Apple has not made an entry into the subscription streaming video market, and has seemingly stalled its plans for a live TV competitor. Apple was also late to the game in subscription streaming music, and allowed Spotify to build up a huge lead before launching Apple Music last year.

The iTunes data includes not just video rental and purchases, but also things like music downloads. Though as you can see from the list, video streaming is the real data hog here.

It's also worth noting that downstream internet activity is an imperfect proxy for how much time people spend watching (since both Netflix and Amazon have made strides towards reducing how much bandwidth their services use). But it still provides a good basic snapshot of the competitive landscape, and shows Amazon climbing.

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