This Week in Apps #112 - The Race is On!
This Week in Apps is a short, no-fluff, round-up of interesting things that happened in the mobile industry. Here are our top highlights.
U.S. Games Revenue Index (30 Day)
1. Hulu's Revenue is Exploding While No One's Looking
I talk about streamers all the time, and I almost always focus on the big names–HBO Max and Disney+. They're popular, they have great attractive titles, and they usually dominate the charts.
But while that's all nice, there's another streaming service that's been around longer and has grown tremendously that's rarely talked about. I'm not sure why...
Hulu has been one of the highest earning apps in the US for as long as I can remember. It's been making money from streaming way before Disney+ and HBO Max even existed.
How much money? In 2017, Hulu's net revenue from the US App Store was around $3M per month, according to our estimates. I'm only including App Store revenue because it uses in-app purchases, which we can estimate, on the App Store but not on Google Play.
Fast forward to 2021, when Hulu had its best month of revenue, and that monthly total climbed to $23M of net revenue. Net means it's what Hulu gets to keep after paying Apple its 30% fee. That's an increase of nearly 700%!
The numbers slowed down a bit, and Hulu ended April of 2022 with $19M of net revenue, according to our estimates. Less good, but overall still a great achievement for the streamer.
What Hulu has that's different from other streamers is its catalog of content. Netflix's catalog has dwindled over the years as it shifted to streaming more exclusive content, which ultimately took a toll on revenue and growth. Hulu's is going strong, mixing in some exclusives with a whole lot of familiar titles.
2. McDonald's Is the Fastest Growing Food App in Its Group
Food delivery apps have grown a bunch over the last couple of years as everything moves to be done from home. That caused food chains to try getting ahead as well, giving away free food for downloads.
A fair trade as far as I'm concerned, but most of them couldn't really turn crazy campaigns into sustained downloads.
And then we have McDonald's...
I rounded up the most popular food apps in the US and compared their downloads in 2020, the year where they were all experimenting, to 2021, the year where they all should have had a solid strategy for.
Of the 10 apps I looked at, half actually shrunk!
Pizza Hut, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Burger King, and Subway all saw downloads decrease in 2021 compared to 2020. Pizza Hut suffered only a tiny bit, losing about 4% of downloads. But Subway saw a decrease of more than 32%. That's not great.
McDonald's, Panera Bread, Wendy's, Domino's Pizza, and Taco Bell all saw increases, ranging from 5% on the low end to as much as 23% on the high end.
But while percentages are great to show differences, they only tell half of this story.
Not only was McDonald's the app with the most growth year-over-year, it was also the app with the most download, and by far. McDonald's ended 2021 with 18M estimated downloads. The closest app, in terms of downloads, was Chick-fil-A. It added 9M estimated downloads, half of what McDonald's added.
As we inch closer to summer, the time when most of these apps spring into action, I expect we'll see more of the same. A not great strategy that will allow McDonald's to continue distancing itself from the pack.
3. The Highest Earning Apps in April
Are apps still making money? Why yes, yes they do! I crunched the numbers and rounded up the top 10 highest earning apps in the US by store and combined so you can see just how much money is going around.
TikTok was the highest-earning app in the US in April. Shocker (that's sarcasm, btw). TikTok's revenue continues a massive growth sprout that started in late 2021 and hasn't stopped yet. It brought in $56M of net revenue in April from the US, according to our estimates.
HBO Max and YouTube tied for second place, both earning $47M of net revenue according to our estimates, a serious win for HBO Max considering rival Disney+ earned about a half of that and only got to fifth place on this list.
One name that's been an invisible staple of this list got pushed out in April. Can you guess who? BIGO Live. Indeed snagged the last place with seriously massive revenue growth (which I looked at in more detail in episode 106), which added $12M of net revenue to its bottom line from the US in April, according to our estimates.
Will BIGO come back next month? Considering Twitch is no longer even close, I have a feeling it may not. We'll have to wait and see.
Together, the highest earners brought in $316M of net revenue from the US in April, which is roughly on par with March. Considering the list is nearly identical, that isn't a surprise.
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4. The Highest Earning Games in April
With April behind us, I crunched the numbers and ranked the highest earning games in the US, and to compare this list to last month's, you'll really have to squint.
Candy Crush was the highest earning game in the US in April, with $94M of net revenue, according to our estimates. That's a serious kaboodle higher than March's total. Or, 59% if you'd rather have real numbers as a comparison.
Roblox scored the #2 spot overall with $59M of net revenue, according to our estimates. This total is lower than March, which isn't all that surprising for the game that's been roaming so far this year. Yet, even when revenue drops, Roblox still remains at the top.
Call of Duty, which came in at #7, made its way back into the list with a serious increase in revenue in April, having nearly disappeared completely in March. And speaking of dropping off, Garena Free Fire didn't make the cut in April, which was a bit surprising. The popular title earned single-digit millions across both stores, which wasn't enough to bring it into the top 10.
Together, the highest-earning games raked in $331M of net revenue from the US in April, about 5% more than March's total. I expect to see more increases as advertisers learn to play in a post-ATT world.
5. Johnny Depp Stars in... Court TV!
Johnny Depp is in court, and an app most people didn't even know existed is having a great couple of weeks.
Court TV, an app that's just like the channel, is dedicated to streaming normally boring court cases, has seen its downloads grow by a factor of 10. Our estimates show that in the last two weeks, downloads have gone from a little under a thousand per week to almost 10,000 per week in the last two weeks.
The reason? Captain Jack Sparrow is suing his ex-wife for defamation, and the whole thing is streaming on Court TV's app. Unlike the movies, this trial isn't too exciting, but it's got a bunch of celebrities, Johnny Depp, and, more importantly, a glimpse into the life of the rich and the crazy. It's hard to say no to that.
10,000 downloads isn't a lot by any stretch (HBO Max sees that in about an hour), but it's a massive gain for an otherwise unknown app and another reminder that streaming is quite officially main-stream. No pun intended. Well, maybe just a little.
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All figures included in this report are estimated. Unless specified otherwise, estimated revenue is always net, meaning it's the amount the developer earned after Apple and Google took their fee.