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While the northern hemisphere may be cold and dreary in this winter of 2019, we can at least take comfort in one thing: We have lots of stats and data about 2018 we can spend weeks chewing through.

Market research firm App Annie produced its 160-page annual State of Mobile report today, and there's a wide variety of bullet points to absorb. But one of the most interesting slices is about our collective shift from standard TV to streaming apps.

In this report, you'll find a chart on page 151 that lists the top ten apps across both the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store in the United States, ranked according to how much money we spent within these apps. Eight of these ten are streaming apps. But while Netflix is usually the global leader in this area, it was edged out by Pandora (download for iOS and Android).

SEE: Pandora Music mobile app now has its own virtual assistant

Pandora doesn't get nearly as much attention in the press as Spotify (download for iOS or Android), Apple Music or Google's regularly evolving music streaming efforts, but it does have one persistent advantage: It's everywhere. It's available on so many platforms that the company had to create a full-fledged online index to catalog all of your options.

In addition to its mobile app, you may find Pandora through your cable TV provider, or in a home theater receiver, smart TV, Bluetooth speaker, Blu-ray players and also your car -- even if you don't have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

Pandora also got in early on the "free internet radio" train and is the defacto ad-supported music streaming option for millions. If you want to avoid the ads, the company also offers a "Pandora Plus" option at $5 per month that does that and gives you unlimited skips and replays, and playlists that you can download for offline listening. This may give potential customers a easier ramp than competitors whose paid option starts at the usual $10 per month.

Even with all of the charts and data in the App Annie report, it's difficult to say how much these factors have helped Pandora -- but it's also only one of two music streaming services in the top 10 list, the other being the relatively new YouTube Music (download for Android or iOS), which barely makes the cut at No. 9.

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What other companies are winning the streaming game, and why?

Like Pandora, YouTube Music benefits greatly from association with regular YouTube (download for Android or iOS), which comes in at No. 4 and sports nearly two billion monthly active users. That's a pretty sizeable billboard for Google, and it appears to be taking full advantage of it.

YouTube TV (download for iOS or Android) is also along for the ride, arriving in the No. 8 spot -- and it's the only app on the chart that's focused on live TV. Hulu, its closest competitor (download for Android or iOS), is arguably more focused on on-demand videos, though it's finally bringing back a full-strength programming guide for its live channels, where available.

According to another chart in the report, time spent in streaming apps in the US has nearly doubled over the last two years on Android phones, though Brazil and India's bumps were even higher -- 130 and 185 percent, respectively.

In all major markets besides China, YouTube was the most common streaming destination, with Netflix nipping at its heels in most cases; Amazon Prime Video (download for iOS or Android) frequently floated around in the top 5, as did its subsidiary Twitch (download for iOS or Android).

Based on the last couple years of App Annie data, it looks like streaming apps will continue to dominate in 2019.


  • App Annie produce its annual State of Mobile report, which indicated that users in the United States are heavily engaged with streaming apps.
  • Pandora saw the most consumer app spending in 2018, despite Spotify having the largest subscriber count and arguably more attention in the tech media.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer,, and He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.