November sees the launch of Disney’s new streaming service Disney+ in the US. This is set to start an entire new chapter in what has become known as the streaming wars.
This past decade has seen millions upon millions of people across the globe change their main form of entertainment viewing to at home streaming. Gone are the days where you enter into a 14,000-year contract with a television service provider. Gone are the days of sitting in the dirty and oddly sticky cinemas, where you pay your hard-earned money for overpriced tickets, overpriced food and are forced to listen to people outright having conversations at full volume. Why would you pay all that money to have a terrible experience when you can pay a very reasonable amount to enjoy a great selection of movies and tv series in the comfort of your own home?
For the majority of the decade, there has been one outright favourite streaming service. Netflix. Surprisingly, Netflix has been operating a lot longer than most people think. Netflix was founded in August of 1997 and began as a movie postal delivery service, sending you DVDs (remember them?) to your home before you would send it back to them. It had quite a large role in the downfall of movie rental shops (remember them too?). This was the origin of entertainment streaming. Obviously, people had been illegally downloading movies and tv shows since the beginning of the internet, but early Netflix was the example of almost legally streaming.
Netflix as we know it would not begin until 2007. This is the year streaming as we know it was born. Within a very short period of time, the at home movie experience would be turned on its head. As mentioned previously, it had a huge role in the downfall of movie rental shops. This is made more ironic when you learn that Blockbuster, perhaps the most globally recognisable video rental chain, had the opportunity to purchase Netflix in 2000 for $50 million. It is understandable why Blockbuster didn’t go through with the deal at the time. It was 2000. Movie rental shops were still a huge commodity and a very sustainable business model. Not to mention that Blockbuster were top dogs in this market. However, in 2007, Netflix began streaming and Blockbuster went out of business 3 years later. Blockbuster had the opportunity to purchase Netflix for $50 million 19 years ago. Netflix is currently worth $116 billion. A poor move by Blockbuster in hindsight.
Throughout the 2010s, Netflix’s main competitor has been Amazon Prime Video. Prime Video started back in 2008, however it gained its reputation in the middle of the 2010s. The services dominated the streaming market producing its own content while also gaining the streaming rights to network shows and major studio movies. Notable hits for the networks throughout the years include Stranger Things, Orange is the New Black, Fleabag and The Grand Tour just to name a few. The success of these shows only helped garner more attention for the streaming services, hence getting them more subscribers. Based on Netflix’s and Prime Video’s success, you would think that the concept of streaming was easy. Just produce quality shows on a relatively cheap budget and sit back and reap the awards. However, it hasn’t proved to be that easy for some.
While there has been notable success for streaming services, there have been significant failures. Most notably, Yahoo Screen (Yahoo View in certain areas). That was the service best known for purchasing the rights to the hit show Community upon its cancellation after its fifth season. Community was critical success for the previous seasons and was hailed as one of the best cult comedies of the previous decade. Yahoo knew this and built their whole streaming service on having the rights to Community while producing its sixth season. Yahoo didn’t seem to realise that it takes years of groundwork to build a complex system like a streaming service and it takes even longer to build up an audience. While Community was a notable cult comedy, it was still only a cult comedy. It wasn’t known amongst the masses. Yahoo banking on all Community fans to subscribe to them for Community alone was a terrible idea and most certainly played out like one, as the fans did not subscribe, and Yahoo didn’t do enough to promote themselves to non-Community fans. Therefore, Yahoo Screen was dead before it had the chance to survive.
There have been numerous other streaming services which are surviving but not necessarily thriving. CBS All Access and Hulu come to mind. However, 2019 and 2020 are set to see the streaming landscape completely changed with some of the world’s largest companies getting in on the action. Most notably, Disney and Apple.
As mentioned at the top of this article, Disney are set to launch their very own streaming service, Disney+, this month in the US. The rest of the world will follow in the coming months. It is widely known now that Disney own pretty much everything in Hollywood. Its true. In March of this year, Disney purchased 20th Century Fox for over $71 billion. No, you didn’t misread that figure. 71 billion dollars! $71.3 billion to be exact. Disney now own Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Fox television networks like FX and National Geographic. This deal will also see the previously Fox owned marvel characters like the X-Men and Deadpool to cross over to the MCU. Good news for all you comic book movie nerds. These individual franchises are multi million, in some cases, multi-billion-dollar entities on their own. Now Disney house them under one roof in the House of Mouse. It won’t be long until they make back their $71.3 billion investment.
Disney were very smart and strategic about their streaming network. Disney announced they were working on their own streaming service back in 2017, the same time they entered talks with 20th Century Fox regarding the eventual acquisition. This allowed Disney around a year and a half to plan and promote their streaming service. Take notes Yahoo. Once the deal was finalised with Fox, the hype train was set in motion. Disney pulled all their Marvel shows and movies from Netflix, so to have all Marvel entities in the one place, Disney+. These Marvel shows and movies were a huge asset to Netflix. Before they even launched, Disney significantly weakened one of their major competitors. Mickey Mouse is brutal.
Apple also decided to dip their toe into the pool of streaming services. On November 1st they launched Apple TV+. (On a side note, these streaming service names are terrible). Apple invested an estimated $6 billion into their streaming service, according to cnet.com. The service launched with 9 shows initially and is set to add more in the near future. Its marquee show is The Morning Show, which sees Hollywood powerhouses Jennifer Anniston and Reece Witherspoon team up as co leads as well as co producers to present a dramatic take on the lives of morning talk show hosts. A bit rogue if you ask me, but those two are seasoned veterans and have everyone’s trust and belief in them.
An honourable mention in the streaming wars goes to HBO Max. HBO have produced quality programming for years now, most notably Game of Thrones. This streaming service seems to have gone under the radar a bit. Understandably when they are competing to get to market against the juggernauts that are Disney and Apple.
Also, a quick dishonourable mention to NBC’s streaming service; Peacock. Yes, that is actually the name that they chose for their streaming service. Peacock. So now, if you’re in America and you want to watch the US Office, you can’t see it on Netflix anymore. No no. You need to get yourself a subscription… to Peacock. Go home NBC. You’re drunk.
So that was a run down of the 17 trillion streaming services that are or will be available to us in the future. The streaming wars have been heating up for months now and are finally set to commence when Disney+ launches in the US on November 12th. Who do you think will win the streaming wars? Do you even care? Probably not. One thing is for sure though. The winner of the streaming wars will most certainly not be Peacock. Cop on NBC.