In this day and age, we’ve become accustomed to Netflix being the market leader in terms of streaming content. The American corporation – founded as a DVD rental company – quickly amassed to be the number one name in consuming movies and TV shows online, with over 139 million paying subscribers. Naturally, with such a lucrative business, there would be competition that would rise up to try and fight for the streaming crown.
Arguably Netflix’s most successful competitor is Amazon Prime Video. Backed by the giant cash flows of the online retail store it’s part of, Prime Video has managed to produce and curate a selection of content that has genuine value to the average consumer, from The Grand Tour to The Boys. Netflix and Amazon have waged a duopoly in recent years, but suddenly, that could change very fast.
A couple of years ago, news broke that Disney would remove its films from other streaming services like Netflix and Amazon and form its own streaming service called Disney+. This news was met with mild shock: it wasn’t uncommon for companies to have their own streaming platform nowadays, that trend was slowly growing for a number of years with services like HBO Go, All 4 and ITV Hub. Companies were slowly realising that people were less likely to watch something live on TV compared to the convenience of on-demand streaming.
The main difference this had with Disney’s decision was that a lot of content was already available on Netflix. Removing their movies and keeping them exclusive to their own service would not only benefit their income, but it would hurt a direct competitor. If it was going to be any other corporation, this gamble might not have worked. But this is Disney, one of, if not the largest media conglomerate on the planet. They have the content to back up their attitude. Their films, from Marvel to Pixar, are renowned the world over, and wherever they are available, people will go.
With over 5,000 titles available on Netflix, it’s not the amount of content that suffers, it’s the overall quality. I don’t think that it’s a surprise that the titles that Disney offer, particularly their films, are some of the best in their genre, and locking down exclusivity can go a long way to ensuring that hardcore Disney aficionados sign up, and stay that way.
A few of my friends have had this train of thought. When Disney’s intentions became clear, they told me that they would likely be getting Disney+ because of the access to classic Disney films. Sure, there’s other ways you can watch them, but not entirely legally. Accessing Disney+ would, therefore, be the safe choice, the option for people who prioritize convenience over any concerns of price.
At the time of writing, Disney+ doesn’t have a concrete release date in the UK, so we can’t look at UK pricing. However, the US pricing model – which doesn’t commonly translate fairly over this side of the pond – does look an enticing prospect to fans of the ‘House of Mouse’. $7 a month isn’t an entirely unreasonable ask given the content on offer, and $84 a year also compares fairly well compared to Netflix and Amazon’s equivalents.
In the US at least, where services like Hulu and ESPN are much more prominent than they are in the UK, the bundle deal for $13 a month seems like a decent offer. Because Disney simply owns so much stuff nowadays, they can package together their services like no-one else really can. Aside from Comcast and Time Warner, (and possibly the CBS-Viacom merger, should that go ahead), not many conglomerates exist out there that can match Disney for their sheer amount of assets.
The biggest selling points when comparing services like these against each other have to be their exclusives or original content. Disney+ obviously have the vast Disney library exclusively, but their upcoming originals, such as The Mandalorian, the Obi-Wan series, as well as planned series in the Marvel universe, are, from the looks of things, worth getting excited about.
BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub have been staples of on-demand services for quite some time now, but the two companies have teamed up to launch a new service, Britbox. Despite controlling only 10% of the service, the BBC are treating this as a big push towards their streaming future in a way that iPlayer couldn’t provide. It seems strange to have to pay for typically free BBC content, but this goes further than domestic territories. Britbox is also aimed at the American market, as over 62 per cent of Americans are currently subscribed to a streaming service of some sort according to a survey in September. Netflix and Amazon have carried some BBC shows as well, like Top Gear and Mock the Week, but they haven’t been the most up to date, which could make the difference between Britbox and them.
ITV has moved for a more aggressive push than the BBC, with a 30-day free window for programmes on ITV Hub compared to iPlayer’s year. At the same time, not everything would be transferred over, as licensing agreements would need to be renegotiated with independent producers. It’s a bold move for the two broadcasting giants, as when the news was announced, it wasn’t met with a large degree of positivity.
It’s clear that the streaming space is getting more and more crowded, with increasing numbers of services and subscriptions taking bites out of your wallet. The bubble is on its way to bursting, as the majority of people are simply not on board with the idea of paying for multiple services. How long will it be sustainable? Well, as on-demand streaming looks set to dominate the landscape for more years to come, it’ll be interesting to see the change in perspectives that people have towards the way the future is going. Until then, that’s another 8 quid a month, please.
Image: Max Pixel