The Streaming Wars are about to Erupt and TV will never be the same again
Everything You Need to Know before the Launch of Full Throttle Entertainment Competition
Over the past ten years, online streaming has changed the course of television history. Services like Netflix and Amazon Prime have transformed the way that we consume media, taking the physical TV out of TV and replacing it with laptops and handheld devices. In the upcoming months, however, history is about to take another enormous leap forwards, as the addition of several new streaming services will take entertainment to entirely new, competitive, and corporately segregated levels.
Enter the New Players: Every Other Major & Minor Studio
While Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu have more or less reigned supreme as the premiere streaming services since they launched, they will soon meet a new lineup of fierce rivals on the battlefield. Over the next few months, Disney, AT&T’s WarnerMedia, Apple, and NCBUniversal will all be entering the streaming world, respectively with the launches of Disney+, HBO Max, Apple+, and Peacock… and that is just a handful of them.
For the most part, each of these new streaming platforms will feature all of the content owned and created by their respective parent companies. With a Disney+ subscription, one can watch everything from Marvel movies to Star Wars to “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.” HBO Max will offer every episode of “Game Of Thrones” and “Friends.” Peacock will give you every episode of “Saturday Night Live” and “The Office.” And so on.
How will Disney Juggle their Family-Oriented Brand with their Monolithic IP Collection?
Of course, there are a few exceptions to this rule. For example, Disney plans to keep its streaming service relatively family-friendly, and therefore will not be offering some of its more mature properties—i.e. 20th Century Fox content such as “Deadpool” or Miramax titles such as “Pulp Fiction,” all of which are technically under the wing of Disney, but do not fit their wholesome brand.
Owning intellectual properties from Fox, Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, National Geographic and beyond, Disney+ is bound to be the biggest juggernaut in this oncoming streaming war. The service also comes at the most affordable price, costing only $7 a month as opposed to HBO’s estimated $15/month or Netflix’s current $12/month.
The Walt Disney Company is not underestimating the significance of Disney+’s launch. CEO Bob Iger has frequently mentioned that it is Disney’s most important development in the fifteen years that he has led the company—and this is the man who spearheaded the Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm acquisitions. As a testament to its importance, Disney has also dropped over a billion dollars into marketing for Disney+, recently even releasing a 3-hour long trailer showing a taste of everything the service will offer.
Corporate Segregation and the IP Divide Demands Consumer Loyalties
Disney is doing all this because they know that they will have to compete with some very skilled rivals. While Disney may have a wide breadth of content in their libraries, they are limited to their own intellectual properties. If someone is a fan of DC over Marvel, then they may take their money over to Warner’s HBO Max. Likewise, if someone is a die hard Trekkie rather than a Star Wars enthusiast, they may opt to subscribe to CBS All Access so they can watch the new episodes “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Piccard.”
This is where the corporate segregation becomes a limitation for streaming. When it was just Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu in the ring, these services would license out content from larger film studios. Netflix, for example, could write a check to Warner Brothers to have their movies and TV shows on their site. Because of multiple deals like this, subscribing to a streaming service used to mean getting access to a wide-range of content made by many different companies.
Now that the larger companies are creating services exclusively for their own libraries, taste and target audiences will play a larger role in the world of streaming. The streaming playing field is not just about to get far more competitive, but it is also about to get far more divisive. Rather than subscribe to a seemingly arbitrary collection of movies and shows via Netflix or Amazon, subscribers will have to chose based on the company whose work they prefer the most.
Will Content Variety that Consumers Crave Disappear?
Unfortunately, this means that if someone is a fan of both Harry Potter and Star Wars, they are out of luck and will have to pay for two different services to get them both. This could even lead to an issue of oversaturation, as people are unlikely to pay for five different services just so they can get the variety they desire. If that is the case, they might as well go back to paying their cable bill.
Thus, the future may lie in mergers and bundles between the services. For small additional prices, subscribers could get extra content or access to more than one streaming platform at a time. Disney has already started offering bundle plans with Hulu, which will give subscribers access to some of those less wholesome titles excluded from Disney+. This may be the only way to keep streaming sustainable and affordable in such a corporately stratified landscape.
Who’s going to be the Winner? Bet on Creativity to come out on top, every time
What will really determine who gets out of this streaming war alive, however, will be original content. Regardless of how good Disney’s library is, viewers can only rewatch the Marvel and Star Wars movies so many times before they desire something new to keep them subscribing. Therefore, original shows and films will be the key to keeping audiences invested. Netflix and Amazon have already been slowly transitioning towards this, focusing more on their own productions of lately as the licensing model fizzles out.
Likewise, Disney+ is promoting itself in part with new movies and shows—among them a live action “Lady and the Tramp” remake, a Marvel series focused on Tom Hiddleson’s Loki, and Star Wars’ “The Mandalorian.” Meanwhile, HBO Max is promising a “Game of Thrones” prequel series. It is products like this that will be available exclusively through the streaming platforms that will keep certain companies’ services afloat over others.
All in all, each company best saddle up with their best writers, directors, casts, and crews, because creativity will be the most powerful weapon in the streaming war. Whoever wields it best is most likely to stand triumphant in the end.
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