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The Streaming Wars as the Decade Begins: Disney Up, Netflix Down, Apple Emerging, and HBO Max TBD

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Graphic Collage of Streaming Platform Logos

The Carnage and Consumer Choice Explosion has only just begun

2019 will go down in history as a game-changing year for television. It was the year that put the nail cable’s coffin as major networks and production companies turned over to the Internet, creating a streaming war between the various online platforms for consumers to watch content on.

The war unofficially began when the Walt Disney Company launched Disney+ on November 12th. In its first day, the service attained over 10 million subscribers. One month in, it had over 24 million, an unprecedented growth rate.

Much of Disney’s success has come at the expense of other streaming services, though. At just $7 a month, Disney+ is one of the less expensive streaming subscriptions on the market. Amazon Prime costs just under $10 a month and Netflix can cost up to $16 a month depending on the plan.

Since Disney+ launched, Netflix has lost 1.1 million subscribers. This is a 5.8% reduction in the company’s customer figures, and it is likely correlated to the fresh competition.

Netflix has tried to combat its rivals by focusing on their in-house productions and creating Oscar-savvy films. While the Academy picks are still yet to come, Netflix is already the most nominated production company for the 2020 Golden Globes. Their movies “The Irishman,” “Marriage Story,” “Dolemite Is My Name,” and “The Two Popes” were all nominated for best picture. “Marriage Story” and “The Irishman” even lead the race with six and five nominations respectively.

Many, however, believe that these prestigious projects are not enough to keep Netflix afloat in the long run. With the rise of Disney+, Netflix is losing all of its licensed-out Disney content, and its library will continue to dwindle as more studios create their own platforms. Perhaps the company’s recent deal with Viacom to produce new Nickelodeon content will help keep Netflix safe for a little while longer. After that, it might have to consider lowering the monthly cost, or even selling the data that it keeps so close to its chest.

Apple TV plus publicity still
Launch Announcement at Apple Special Event in 2019

Apple TV+ could be a Sleeper Hit with Upside Potential to Grow

One of the few streaming services that costs less than Disney+ right now is Apple TV+, another new kid on the block that launched on November 1st. Apple TV+ costs only $5 a month, and since its emergence it has garnered around 9 million subscribers. These figures seem small when standing next to Disney, but that 9 million may not account for all of the people who bought new Apple devices this year. As an extension of the tech company, Apple TV+ is included free-of-charge for one year on all new iPhones, iPads, Apple SmartTVs, or Mac computers.

Like Netflix, Apple TV+ is also making a big debut in the upcoming awards season. Its original series, “The Morning Show” already earned the company three Golden Globe nominations. This marks the first time that a streaming service has achieved recognition from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in its inauguration year.

On the other end of the spectrum from Apple TV+’s affordable price is the forthcoming HBO Max, which AT&T’s WarnerMedia will launch in May 2020. HBO Max will cost a hefty $15 a month, and its release date has been pushed back multiple times since its announcement in 2018.

Thus, HBO Max has been a confusing and quiet underdog in the streaming war. Part of the confusion surrounding the future service is the fact that WarnerMedia already has two different premiere subscription services—HBO Go and HBO Now (not to mention the DC Universe streaming service also under Warner’s corporate umbrella).

Netflix Facing new competition from all sides

To put it plainly, HBO Max will combine HBO Go and HBO Now to offer both service’s entire libraries plus original shows, all the DC content, and additional intellectual properties from other TimeWarner networks such as TNT, TBS, CNN, and Cartoon Network. It will have all episodes of “Friends,” “South Park,” and “Game Of Thrones.” Oddly, it will not have Warner Brothers’ famed Harry Potter or Fantastic Beast films, as their streaming rights are still licensed out to Universal.

This consolidation of all TimeWarner content will be another hit against Netflix. Based on viewership, Netflix’s two most popular shows are “Friends” and “The Office,” and they will be losing both of them to HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock respectively.

These streaming services are the major players in the game, but they are not alone. Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube TV, Philo, CBS All-Access, fuboTV and others may not be as talked about, but they still have stakes in the streaming wars. Competition amongst the entertainment conglomerates in the cybersphere will undoubtedly continue into the new year, and it will likely come to redefine television in the approaching decade.


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