Sensor Tower’s iOS App Leaders for December 2015

Streaming video giants YouTube and Netflix continue to ascend the top-grossing charts, plus more Store Intelligence insights from the last month of 2015.

iOS App Leaders December 2015 Hero Image

If there's one key theme we can pull from the final month of Apple App Store data for 2015, it's that it was a good time to be a streaming video app publisher on iOS. In our latest non-gaming app rankings based on Sensor Tower's industry-leading Store Intelligence download and revenue estimates, we dive into the month-over-month growth for these apps, find that December might not be the best month for love gurus, and more. Read on to explore our detailed charts and analysis.

Top Downloads: Streaming Video Apps Accelerate Their Growth Worldwide

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iOS Top App Downloads United States December 2015

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iOS Top App Downloads Worldwide December 2015

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YouTube supplanted Facebook in both the U.S. and worldwide during December, continuing its download growth over November. In the U.S., downloads of Google's video app were up nearly 25 percent month-over-month (MoM), while worldwide they grew 15 percent. Not to be left out, Netflix also saw MoM growth in the double digits over the previous month, although only in the U.S., increasing by nearly 24 percent in the territory.

It's worth noting that both apps actually grew their downloads more slowly between November and December of 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014. Back then, the apps both saw MoM growth in excess of 30 percent. What's more, YouTube's downloads for December 2014 were actually about 4.5 percent higher than last month, at 4.2 million versus 4.02 million.

Streaming video apps also made a strong showing on the worldwide downloads chart, with Chinese offerings Letv and Tencent Video climbing 99 and 27 spots, respectively, over their rankings for November. iQIYI, which ranked No. 3 for worldwide downloads last month, remained in the top 10 but dropped six places to No. 9.

Also of note was Amazon's MoM decrease in U.S. downloads of nearly 10 percent, dropping two spots from its November position, and Spotify's appearance on the top 10 in 10th position (it ranked 12th the month before).

Top Revenue: Fueled by Red, YouTube Enters the Big Leagues of App Revenue

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iOS Top App Revenue United States December 2015

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iOS Top App Revenue Worldwide December 2015

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While the top of the U.S. non-gaming app revenue chart was business as usual last month, the real action was happening down at the bottom in 10th position. That's where YouTube made its big debut among the 10 highest grossing apps domestically, this after Google launched its premium, ad-free YouTube Red service as an in-app purchase (with a one-month free trial) in October.

YouTube ranked 20th overall in terms of U.S. non-gaming app revenue in November, climbing nearly 158 percent to enter the top 10 in December, from approximately $428,000 to approximately $1.1 Million per month. Google began generating in-app revenue from YouTube Red subscriptions in late November, which can be seen on the chart below:

YouTube U.S. Revenue

The initial spike in revenue on November 30 came at the end of the free trial period for early YouTube Red adopters, and was followed by another, smaller spike exactly one month later on December 30. We've witnessed similar behavior with other subscription-based apps in the past, and it's too early to say what this decrease means for subscriber retention in the long term.

Sticking with the theme of streaming video app revenue, Netflix, which debuted on both the U.S. and worldwide non-gaming app revenue top 10 in November, climbed two spots on both charts for December.

Having introduced the ability to subscribe via in-app purchase last September, the app saw MoM revenue grow approximately 77 percent in the U.S. last month and approximately 71 percent worldwide, for an estimated $1.4 million and $1.9 million, respectively. Just before we published this report, Netflix announced that had expanded its service to an additional 130 countries, so we'll be keeping an eye on what effect this move has on the company's app revenue in coming months.

Elsewhere on the U.S. and worldwide app revenue top 10s, Smule's Sing! Karaoke managed to maintain a spot among the mix of streaming media and dating apps, moving up one position in the U.S. Dating apps didn't fare quite so well, however, with the big three—Tinder, Zoosk, and Match—all dropping one spot on both the U.S. and worldwide charts over where they ranked in November. All three saw their MoM revenue decrease, as indicated on the charts above, leading us to question if iOS users were too focused on finishing last-minute gift shopping in December to think about finding love—or maybe they were just watching more YouTube and Netflix.

Note: The revenue estimates displayed on our charts are net amounts, i.e., the amount paid to publishers by Apple after its 30 percent portion of their revenue has been deducted.

Join Us Next Month

We'll return with a look at January's non-gaming iOS app download and revenue estimates next month. In the meantime, let us hear your feedback on these charts by tweeting @SensorTower or emailing

Sensor Tower's platform is an enterprise-level offering. Interested in learning more?

Randy Nelson

Written by: Randy Nelson, Head of Mobile Insights

Date: January 2016

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