With the book now closed on the year 2020, CivicScience checked in on how streaming services are faring as the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep Americans cooped up at home. 

Netflix remains the top streaming service, with Amazon Prime Video, as usual, in a solid second place. The major change over the past year has been the ascendancy of Disney+, which has caught up with Hulu in a dead heat for third place among streaming services.

Among the ‘second tier’ of streaming services, the biggest story of 2020 was the rise of HBO Max, which vaulted past ESPN+ and Apple TV+ since its launch in May.

Meanwhile, the two largest network-based streaming services — CBS All Access and Peacock (NBCUniversal) — each attracted 13% of U.S. adults in the month of December. 

In CivicScience’s ongoing surveying, Netflix has traditionally blown away the competition when it comes to the best selection of original content. And now, even with HBO Max and Disney+ (and its megahit series, The Mandalorian) added to the mix, that still holds true. Among those that registered an opinion, the vast majority (62%) said Netflix still has the best original shows and movies.

Plenty of Cords Are Still Being Cut

As most streaming services saw subscriptions either increase or hold steady in 2020, the percentage of television-watching Americans who said they had ‘cut the cord’ — that is, gotten rid of traditional cable or satellite TV services — increased to 37% in the final quarter of 2020.

Compare that to just 29% in the first quarter of 2019, when CivicScience first started this ongoing survey.

Account-Sharing Is a Factor in Subscription Numbers

One interesting wrinkle to consider: While it’s not the norm, many U.S. adults say they use at least one streaming service that is paid for by someone living outside their household. Roughly 1 in 6 Americans surveyed about this topic said they currently use a streaming service paid for by someone outside their household, while another 8% said they’d done so in the past – and 6% preferred not to say.

Americans continued to cut the cord in 2020, with nearly 4 in 10 television-watching adults now saying they’ve done away with cable or satellite TV. Meanwhile, most of the major streaming services held steady in subscriber numbers, while a few — Disney+ and HBO Max, to name a few — made substantial gains over the past calendar year.