The Streaming War: All the Major Players
This cold war just got hot!
Everyone knows about the so-called streaming wars, but, like most would be gimmicks, have brushed the whole thing off as another cheap marketing ploy to gain subscribers. This war is something that seems amusing when trying to get people’s attention when something big happens at Netflix, or someone makes a move over to Hulu. But most of the time, viewers just scroll past those headlines because they do not know the sheer gravity of the situation.
The world of streaming is faster and faster, becoming people’s go-to for how they watch their favorite content. A world where all intelligent life has cut the cord is inevitable, so those who reign supreme in the beginning are poised to have a long, prosperous rule. The traditional days of pay-TV bundles are becoming the equivalent of an endangered species, and the world of entertainment is experiencing the next stage of evolution. The race to launch the most popular subscription service is more important now than it has ever been before.
Some believe the king has already been crowned while others may debate that a changing of the guard has begun, one thing is for sure this cold war just got hot. The conquest for streaming dominance has officially unveiled all of its serious contenders, and the list is quite impressive. While there are dozens out there that are offering up all kinds of great things to watch, only a few stand to become significant players in this clash of OTT greatness.
This royal rumble sees many enter the ring with only a few actually having a chance of sitting upon the throne of screen occupancy. The hardened veterans must stand their ground against a slew of enhanced rookies backed by the likes of the world’s most powerful rodent, and the only fruit anyone would pay top dollar for has a bite already taken out of it, just to name a few. For those not familiar with the different sigils that wave in the winds across the crowded battlefield, here is all the intel one needs to decide for whom to pledge their ocular allegiance.
The Seasoned Vets
When anyone hears anything about streaming, the first name that comes to mind is Netflix. The name is synonymous with cutting the cord and is undeniably one of the most popular choices for those looking for an alternative to cable television. Since 2017, this streaming powerhouse has acquired over 100 million subscribers and shows little signs of slowing down. They did, however, miss their most recent projection goals.
Netflix reported a loss of 130,000 customers, which it blamed on higher prices and an unfortunate weak slate of TV shows. The 2.8 million subscribers it acquired internationally in that period came to roughly half of what the company predicted. This resulted in the worst earnings report for Netflix since 2011, which is when they decided to ditch their physical disc mail from streaming. But CEO Reed Hastings does not seem to be worried, even in the wake of rising competition. His attitude is that competition is good for business, and if that is the case, then business is about to be booming given how many outfits are about to open up shop.
Netflix was one of the first to venture out into the uncharted territory of streaming subscriptions plans, and this game-changing roll of the dice worked out for them very well. They were the first to showcase that these streaming players could put out quality content on the same par with the likes of HBO. Programs like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Black Mirror have gone on to bring the company major television awards. These programs have inspired a loyal following to the service, as one example had the last season of one of their biggest hits Stranger Things see a significant membership increase upon its release.
And shows aren’t the only thing they excel in. Bird Box was a huge success for the platform, and Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma secured Netflix a couple of Academy Award wins. It also has ventured into the world of interactive storytelling with "choose your own adventure" products. Despite the membership setbacks, their plans for content production does not seem to be slowing down, and it looks like its patrons will have a lot to be excited about week after week. All this with an impressive library of licensed TV shows and movies puts this powerhouse at the top of the list for most likely to succeed in this game. Will this glorious Empire reign for a thousand years or will it crumble to the new age? Only time will tell.
Unlike most of the streaming services out there, YouTube has been around for what seems like forever, and already has amassed a vast audience. Every day, the site reports users watching more than a billion hours per 24 hour period with an estimated 1.9 billion viewers coming in every month. From music videos, docuseries, or their rather impressive list of free movies to view, there is and always will be something for everyone on YouTube. These guys are arguably the number one global video platform and should very well be considered a formidable factor in the battles to come within the streaming world.
The catch with YouTube and the one factor that is hurting them in their attempts to gain ground in this race for screen dominance is that most watch their videos for free with ads. This makes it difficult to convince viewers to join a subscription service to pay for content. So YouTube is shifting its focus from scripted originals to unscripted content. The programs held behind a paywall will become free supported by ads by the year 2020. The Google division will be primarily focusing more on productions revolving around YouTube stars, celebrities, and musical artists. Actor Will Smith alone has nearly 5.6 million followers on his YouTube channel. The Hollywood superstar gained a lot of traction live-streaming himself skydiving.
Last month, the company announced its upcoming slate, including Cobra Kai and three other shows returning for another season. The new series includes three music-related specials, five shows related to learning, three documentaries and an interactive special involving a museum heist with YouTube creator Mark Fischbach. This new and exciting lineup will cater to global audiences, with one of the music specials focusing on Latin music star Maluma.
It's hard to imagine a world where YouTube isn't the number one choice to upload videos and enjoy some of the best free content online. The short-form market has been readily increasing over the past few years, and there seems to be more competition coming on the horizon. Outfits like Vimeo, Facebook Watch, Instagram, and Snapchat are all vying for views along with the streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon. However, most of this so-called competition use the site for their own advertising endeavors. All the major players, including Netflix and HBO, have channels on the platform and help bring in a massive amount of views to the service. Because of this, YouTube will always hold a slight advantage and is already, presumably, too big to fail. While they may never outdo the powerhouses like Netflix, there will always be a place for YouTube with consumers. It's hard to imagine a future without it.
The thing keeping Amazon afloat isn’t its library of licensed content, which is impressive. It’s the fact that it's really an add-on for the ease of e-commerce. Most people are really in it for the free shipping and other perks that come along with a Prime membership. It's merely a bonus to the Prime service, which customers absolutely can't get enough of, especially when they offer the fastest shipping on millions of items from Amazon's marketplace. Not helping their campaign for a title shot is that only a fraction of Prime members watch Prime Video currently. Reports indicate that 34 million consumers have a Fire TV device hooked up to their TVs. But if only a small portion of members are actually watching, is Prime really in the running to rule it all?
Amazon Prime was the first streaming service to secure an Oscar victory with Manchester by the Sea’s Casey Affleck taking home the award for Best Actor. Amazon has put out other solid films such as The Big Sick and King Lear, which have received significant critical acclaim. They've done well on the TV front with hits such as Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, The Marvelous Ms. Maisel, and The Man in the High Castle. Their library is exceptional and offers a lot of programs that Netflix does not have. Most of the benefits come from purchasing other channels from Starz, HBO, and Showtime for an additional cost.
The company has publicly stated they are going to be producing bigger-budgeted series based on popular stories such as the very highly anticipated Lord of the Rings show. That could very well be a Game of Thrones level hit that could propel this streaming outfit to the top of the charts. Their answer to the oversaturated superhero market is The Boys, a series about a group of mercenaries with no powers used to regulate superheroes when they get out of control. So they are definitely thinking outside the box in terms of making gains in the race for screen superiority.
The one thing Amazon has over its competition is that they have a lot of money to play with. In a world where everything is digital and occurring online, it is safe to say they will remain atop the commerce market game for many years to come. However, they’ll need to thoroughly follow through on their promise of upping their content game if they want to stay a major player in the streaming race and not go down in history as a simple add on for e-commerce.
Hulu has always been a solid choice for those looking for alternatives to the days of cable and satellite dishes. Unlike Netflix and Amazon, Hulu offers both an ad-supported version for a lower cost and an ad-free version for a bit more. Its library is impressively stacked with a wide variety of content similar to its competition. They also put out critically acclaimed titles and make a significant amount of noise come awards season. The service does offer channels similar to Amazon, so Starz, HBO, and Showtime are available for additional charges. What sets them apart is their Live and On-Demand TV format allowing subscribers access to 60+ top channels including sports and news. So on its own, Hulu seems like it definitely could have been a contender, and for the most part, it still is. Now it's just part of a much bigger magical kingdom.
Hulu has officially become a member of the Mickey Mouse Club, and they have big plans for the streaming service moving forward, especially after the Fox acquisition. Disney gained a considerable amount of content, and it will need a place to call home. Basically, Hulu is the place to be for anything Disney owns that isn’t deemed suitable for the family-friendly environment Disney+ is trying to promote, and will stream the more adult-oriented fare. The new Marvel collection of grown-up animated series will stream on Hulu, and it's likely this is where Deadpool-like content will be found moving forward. Disney has unveiled that the FX Plus subscription service is being dissolved and its content is set to get funneled into the Disney-controlled platform. FX Plus offered ad-free access to more than 1,400 episodes of FX programming, including Atlanta, American Horror Story, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Sons of Anarchy.
Along with all the new stuff coming for Hulu patrons, the service will continue to stream content from three of the broadcast networks, as well as its own original series. Their originals include Shrill, Ramy, Castle Rock, The Act, and The Handmaids Tale all the while boasting an impressive library of popular TV shows and movies. They've also enlisted the horror master BlumHouse, the studio behind The Purge and Paranormal Activity franchise. The Into The Dark series provides subscribers with a cinema-quality horror film every month—thus terrifying anyone from not keeping up on their subscription payments. With all this, there is no question that there is something for everyone on the now Disney owned service.
Hulu will continue to be a factor moving forward, but not as a solo act. It will be part of a much bigger plan for total domination. Disney has also stated that there are plans for Hulu, ESPN Plus, and Disney+ to bundle them at a discount if you subscribe to two or three of its streaming options. Instead of everyone on one or the other, they have found a solid strategy to win over consumers. Everyone gets their own app. The kids have Disney+ on the TV, with Mom on the tablet watching Hulu, and Dad Streaming ESPN Plus to his phone. Say what you will about Disney, but they really know how to corner the market.
CBS ALL ACCESS
CBS All Access doesn’t sound like the most thrilling choice out there when it comes to streaming options, but one would be surprised at what this option has to offer. CBS All Access subscribers can stream the latest episodes of current seasons right to their living room one day after the original airdate. Patrons can watch all of the greatness that exists in CBS Late Night, Prime Time, Day Time, and they can do this anytime. It's also worth it for those looking to dive headfirst into the distinguished archive of classic CBS content on demand. This service allows members to stream the likes of Twin Peaks, Cheers, I Love Lucy, Wings, Taxi, and much, much more. Many of these legendary programs can be enjoyed ad-free, and there are a lot of options, with over 7,500 episodes to choose from. And like Hulu, they also offer a live feature covering sports like NCAA basketball.
Like its competitors, CBS boasts a robust lineup of original content that not only eclipses everything its primetime rivals put out, but even matches up with the likes of Netflix and HBO. The horror genre’s famous new director, Jordan Peele, has revived the classic Twilight Zone series in his own twisted modern image and the result is a rousing success among critics and fans alike. The Good Wife spinoff, The Good Fight, has resonated well with fans, and its Strange Angel series is continuing to gain traction with viewers. On the horizon will be a mini-series based off of ex FBI director James Comey, which will definitely be a hot topic given all the controversy surrounding that subject. Also in the mix will be Sex and the City’s Kim Cattrall returning to the small screen for Tell Me a Story, a dark twist on the fairy tale genre.
CBS's streaming service is also the place to be if one considers themselves a Trekkie. Every single Star Trek episode can be found onboard USS All Access. This includes the hit new series Star Trek Discovery, as well as the Picard series with the return of Sir Patrick Stewart to the role that made him a legend. An animated series called Lower Deck is one of the new series to releases within the Trek Universe. Fanboys and Fangirls do not need to venture into the deep reaches of space to get the ultimate Star Trek fix, all they have to do is download the CBS All Access App and make it so.
CBS All Access's advantage streams from a successful history with digital platforms, as well as having a four year head start on the newcomers. Their original content game continues to improve, and it seems to be helping them grow faster than initially anticipated. CBS announced recently that it had reached its streaming goal of 8 million subscribers nearly two years ahead of schedule. The company then ambitiously raised its target for 2022 from 16 million to 25 million streaming subscribers. Despite not being the most popular kid on the block, CBS will continue to rightfully be a force to be reckoned with that will continue to gain traction as this war continues to heat up.
The Elite Rookie Class
Starting off this rather impressive looking rookie class is WarnerMedia, one of the entertainment industries biggest and brightest. When this major conglomerate announced their candidacy for title of supreme leader of the subscription service plan world, many people scoffed at the idea that they thought they could even enter the race this late in the game. It seems like they were following suit with Paramount and CBS, adding another option to whatever’s out there that isn’t Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu. So for once, the company with HBO and Warner Brothers studio under its banner was coming in at a considerable disadvantage. For WarnerMedia this would be one of those moments where they’d either have to go big or go home if they wanted to stand a chance. So they decided to enter the fray in a big way, offering up basically everything they had, the kitchen sink, and then some.
WarnerMedia is entering the war for streaming supremacy, but it will be doing so under the name of HBO Max. This subscription service is looking to debut sometime in the early days of 2020, and will grant its lucky users access to HBO, Cinemax, and a ton of great Warner Brothers content. That includes the DC Extended Universe superhero movies, the Harry Potter films, Godzilla and King Kong’s shared Monster universe, and the Lord of the Rings franchise, among many other popular properties. HBO Max will offer something for everyone, with it featuring 10,000 hours of premium content from the likes of HBO, Warner Bros., New Line, DC Entertainment, CNN, TNT, TBS, truTV, The CW, Turner Classic Movies, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Crunchyroll, Rooster Teeth, Looney Tunes, and more.
The service will also be the exclusive streaming source for all new Warner Bros. dramas produced for The CW network. This will start with there upcoming fall 2019 season that features the premieres of the highly anticipated Ruby Rose Batwoman series and the Riverdale spinoff titled Katy Keene. That’s not the only perk loyal subscribers will get to enjoy if they switch to the Max. The exclusive streaming rights at launch to all 236 episodes of the mega-hit show Friends will be available to relive in its entirety at the click of a button. And that's not the only piece of TV greatness members of WarnerMedia’s platform can enjoy. All episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Pretty Little Liars will also be ready on day one to binge at one’s discretion. It also goes without saying that having access to the full slate of HBO’s original series including awards favorites like Game of Thrones, Veep, and Chernobyl is a game-changing offer on its own. Everything else is just like the sweetest cherry on top.
But there is also a lot of new stuff coming into play for the HBO Max service. A spinoff of the hit C.W. series Gossip Girl is officially in the works. That intriguing tidbit is just the start, with an animated Gremlins prequel on the horizon, and a spinoff series inspired by visionary director Denis Villeneuve. His upcoming adaptation of author Frank Herbert’s sci-fi classic Dune, will be called Dune: The Sisterhood, and will also soon find a home on the fledgling, streaming platform. And that is not all, also in the pipeline is a list of projects from big names like Anna Kendrick, Nicole Kidman, Greg Berlanti, Patrick Somerville, and Ansel Elgort. Overall deals have been made with some of the entertainment industries most wanted like Ava DuVernay, Mindy Kaling, and J.J. Abrams. If WarnerMedia thought the market needed convincing it was serious about this streaming thing, it has showcased more than sufficient evidence with its newest additions alone.
WarnerMedia knows it has a lot of ground to cover and a lot of catching up to do in this race. But given all the content they are gearing up with, both old and new, it seems they have everything they need to make a significant impact early on and become a prominent choice for audiences when trying to decide what to watch and where to watch it. While it is now an ad-free service, an ad-supported version will be part of HBO Max’s second iteration, likely in 2021. Early reports indicated that it's estimated to cost $16-17 per month, which is a bit more than their competitors; but when one sees what's on the menu, the extra few dollars won’t seem that difficult to part with. One gets what one pays for, and HBO Max seems like viewers are getting the better end of the deal.
In the tech world, one can argue that one is either first or last and that there is no love shown for those taking home silver and bronze. Most of the time, that is the case, but there are exceptions to every rule, anomalies to every existence. While Myspace started making waves with the social media trend, Facebook to this day comfortably reigns supreme against everyone else. Disney+ is looking to prove that first is not always best when it comes to streaming, hoping this gamble proves their version can pull a Facebook over Netflix and replace the streaming powerhouse as the number one go-to when consumers get ready to sit down and watch their favorite programs. And the mouse is marching on to the battlefield with an arsenal supported by the wildest of imaginations and an army backed by everything that dreams are made of.
It seems like this has been the plan all along, or at least everything the major studio has done has put it in a very nice position to hit the ground running when it finally releases this fall. Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and some Fox properties will come to live under the Disney+ banner. And they are not wasting any time putting out content on the same level as the competition. Disney is spending Game of Thrones money on the first-ever live-action Star Wars TV series called The Mandalorian, which stars Michael B. Jordan and Gina Carano and is directed by Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau. Also in the works from a galaxy far, far away is a series based on Diego Luna’s Rogue One character Cassion, also featuring K-2S0, the droid unofficially dubbed the coolest bot in all of Star Wars. They’ve also got some movies on the way, one being a live-action remake of the classic tale of Lady and the Tramp with Tessa Thompson lending her vocal talents to the production. And if the new stuff hasn’t convinced you, the classics they offer are more than enough to get you to sign up. If every episode of The Simpsons being ready to binge at launch doesn’t get people excited, I don’t know what will. The real selling point, though, is finally having a single place to find all the greatness from the Disney vault. Knowing this moving forward, the possibilities with this service are endless. Basically, the Magic Kingdom in your living room every time you turn on your favorite streaming device.
So what does the future hold for those hoping to be able to watch their favorite Disney programs on Netflix? They are about to get some unfortunate news. Disney's presence will fade from Netflix by late 2019. From Marvel to Star Wars, everything with the castle shown in the opening moments is making its way off the streaming powerhouse, with the exception of the very well received and popular Marvel series featuring Luke Cage, The Punisher, and Iron Fist, just to name a few. Disney+ could possibly revive the Defenders Netflix canceled shows. According to a report, the terms of their original deal could restrict Disney+ from any revivals until 2020. Despite the lack of certainty regarding the future of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, the streaming service does open a ton of new possibilities regarding the ever-popular Marvel Cinematic Universe.
There are several new series from the MCU on the way. A Loki series starring Tom Hiddleston that unveiled its first image recently, seeing the Asgardian trickster in the 1970s presumably up to no good, is probably the one most Marvel fans are excited about. Newly appointed Captain America Sam Wilson will be teaming up with the Winter Soldier in a new series that will see Bucky acclimating to the modern world, dealing with dating, and using apps. It will also see the return of Emily VanCamp’s Agent 13 and Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo, both last seen in Captain America: Civil War. And rounding out the Disney+ entries into the MCU will be a series called WandaVision which will star Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch. Along with all the new action on the way, Disney+ will be the only place to find your favorite MCU films, starting with Captain Marvel; and they will be the only ones showcasing the highest-grossing movie of all time, Avengers: Endgame, which will be touching down exclusively on the service on Dec. 11. While some of its content will be on Hulu, Disney+ is now the official home of all things Marvel.
Some would assume getting access to all this beloved content would be like taking a trip to Disneyland and will end up completely breaking the bank. On the contrary, Disney+ will set back subscribers a mere $6.99/month or $69.99/year. Noticeably much cheaper than Netflix, the mouse is attempting to make its presence known, hopefully giving them another edge entering the fold. Disney has mentioned offering bundle packages with Hulu and ESPN Plus again making it a very lucrative investment for any consumer. They have recruited some serious talent and gained a vast library of well-received content definitely making them one of the top contenders to take this war by storm. If anything Disney+ offers something much different than the other players. This isn’t just another way to watch TV. This is an escape into a wondrous, magical world that most of us have forgotten. This is a place where one can be a kid again and finally have the magic of Disney’s imagination ready at a moment's notice. Mark your calendars because this November, let the adventures begin!
Seeing all the significant players enter the streaming game, it seemed inevitable that Apple would eventually throw their hat in the ring at some point. And while some would argue that the tech giant has everything it needs to take this war by storm with Apple TV + and boasts an impressive chance to eclipse the major players, Apple doesn’t think that is the case. But while they do believe it can definitely be a factor when it comes to consumers' decisions on where to get their content, something they’ve been doing effectively for some time now, they have a very different take on the matter. The company has no intentions of being a Netflix killer, quite the opposite in fact. Apple believes that competition is a great thing and envisions its new streaming service as one that could sit alongside other services. Their belief is that many viewers will likely bundle several services, creating the perfect viewing experience tailored to their needs; something they feel confident cannot be done by just choosing one provider.
Apple has always had this dominant presence, but its always done so in a very lax way. They have always been confident that whoever their competition is; whether it be Microsoft with P.C.s or Samsung with phones, there will always be enough consumers out there for them to thrive. A substantial amount of people prefer the Apple name, and that shows little signs of stagnating. Apple's thought process is much different than the competition, but really makes sense given their history. No matter what happens, they always find a way to not only stay relevant, but remain a top choice among people everywhere. So with that being said, it will be exciting to see how Apple TV + fares in the coming streamer battles between the veterans and newcomers. But that unwavering confidence starts to make a lot more sense when one realizes that Apple TV + is not the only thing the tech giant has in store for the future of its streaming endeavors. During their latest reveal, they pulled back the curtain on its intrepid two-pronged strategy.
Over the past few years, Apple has spent billions prepping its highly anticipated entry into the war for screen-occupancy dominance. Apple is fully transitioning from aggregating content to creating, curating, and distributing it to all devices with a screen. They have already started making big moves into this new agenda with their launch of Apple News+ and their Apple Arcade game subscription service. The timing for all this couldn’t be better as iPhone sales continue to drop, meaning Apple's future will soon be dependent on these services to continue to grow. Apple TV + and Apple TV Channels will both be available this fall in over 100 countries within the new Apple TV app, which is coming in May as an iOS update. The Apple TV app is also coming to Mac for the first time this fall. And when it all finally releases, the much-hyped Apple TV + service will feature a slew of star-studded original shows and movies.
As far as what’s coming to the service in regards to new and original content, the list is very long and prestigious. Apple plans to spend $2 billion on programming, and for excellent reasoning. Literally, some of the biggest names in the game are heading to Apple's streaming service. One of which is The Morning Show, a brand new drama series starring acting powerhouses Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell. This star-studded show is about the making of a morning news program. Stephen Spielberg is also in the mix, despite his anti-Netflix ways, and is rebooting his 80s anthology series Amazing Stories. Aquaman star Jason Momoa will star in a futuristic drama about a world where survivors of a worldwide virus are left blind, appropriately titled See. It is not all for the adult's kids, as Big Bird announced at the reveal that there would be new episodes of Sesame Street heading to Apple TV+. The Big Sick star Kumail Nanjiani is working on a new anthology series called Little America, which will focus on immigrants in the US. Apple has also tapped some legitimate heavy hitters like J.J. Abrams, Brie Larson, Damien Chazelle, M. Night Shyamalan, and Oprah Winfrey to develop series and documentaries for the service.
If Apple is getting into the creating content game, they are off to a good start. While the announcements of all the greatness coming to their platform are nice, Apple has yet to state how much the service of Apple TV + would cost. Consumers know Apple products are not cheap, so the question arises how will they thrive in a market where anything over $15 is considered too expensive. Especially when some of their competitors have monthly charges of under $10. All the bells and whistles are great, but the monthly cost is one of the driving factors guiding customers to make the decision of which platform to pledge their allegiance. Hopefully, people know well enough before it releases this fall. But given what Apple’s bringing to the table and their “competition is great” attitude, its hard to imagine consumers not taking a bite out of their service. They may not eat the whole apple, but there is definitely something for everyone to nibble on.
CBS was the first of the major primetime networks to plunge headfirst into the streaming game. It was inevitable the others would follow, one of which was NBC. The primetime powerhouse did attempt to enter by purchasing a stake in Hulu, which it still has; but given the fact that its primary control lies with Disney, they will need to find a new spot to stay afloat in this new age of content consumption. So it was no surprise that NBCUNIVERSAL unveiled the news that they would be launching their own service. And given the content they put out, and how well this material resonates with fans, it seems that they are poised to make a significant impact on the streaming wars.
The award-winning network is getting into the streaming game with a new service expected to launch in early 2020, noting that the company will also retain its 30 percent stake in Hulu. The streaming service will offer current and prior seasons while delivering a light advertising load to those with an ad-supported subscription. NBCU will be free to pay-cable subscribers in the US, and will make the service available to 52 million subscribers. This offering is expected to feature both programming from outside partners, original content, and material from the NBC archives. For a fee, an ad-free version will also be available. For all the non-pay-TV customers out there, do not fear, as one can acquire a subscription separately.
But the thing to keep in mind here is that NBC doesn’t want you to cut the cord. Reports are already indicating that all revenue from the non-pay-TV plan will be immaterial, sources say. The non-cord-cutters will be able to watch the network’s programming anywhere, on any device, independent of their cable provider’s footprint, but its cord-cutting product will not. So while they are somewhat entering the race, they are doing so with one foot in and one foot out. This indicates that despite the streaming movement is quickly becoming the preferred choice by consumers, the old school network is clinging to the past, hoping things will either stay the same or go back to the days of cable glory. If that is the plan, they had better tread lightly with this roll of the dice, because if they are not careful, they may have a bleak future in front of them.
Despite the networks apprehension to go all in, NBCUniversal has some of the world’s most valuable intellectual properties, as well as some of the best talent, both in front of and behind the camera. Many of the most-watched and talked about shows on today’s popular streaming platforms come from NBC. The Office is one of those shows, with many stating that it is really the main reason they have Netflix and continue to maintain their membership. Which makes sense why NBC in its first big move into the streaming game has decided to remove The Office from its competitor, making it exclusive to their service. Another NBC property making its move exclusively to the platform is Glenn Howerton’s comedy series A.P. Bio, which was thought to be canceled after its second season.
For now, the network will have nonexclusive access to all of the programming it sells to Hulu. And three years from now, when its current content deal ends, there will be an easy path for NBC to make all its content exclusive to its service. This could lead to a future where The Good Place, Parks and Recreation, and Superstore are all in one place one day. They will probably add several other shows away from other streamers by the time it debuts.
The Short Form Contenders
When Facebook started, it had other social media sites to compete against like Friendster and MySpace. It didn’t seem like they had much of a chance to thrive in an already crowded market. Fast forward to today and Friendster and Myspace are ancient relics, and Facebook is literally the most popular place to be on the worldwide web. There are some countries where people even refer to the Internet as Facebook. It has become an essential part of people's everyday lives and has brought individuals together from all over the planet. And now that Facebook has solidified its dominance in the world of social networking, it looks to do so in the world of streaming. They have always been a place to share one's favorite videos with the world, and now they are taking that up a notch with Facebook Watch.
Facebook Watch is a video-on-demand service that combines aspects of its video-sharing functionality with premium content. This allows users to upload both short-form and long-form videos, but it should be mentioned that it will also include original comedy, drama, and news programming. The service is entirely free, with the only catch being that it does require one to have a Facebook account, which a good portion of the world already has. Facebook Watch is built directly into Facebook and can be accessed through the main Facebook website and the Facebook app. This can be accomplished on mobile platforms and streaming devices. Facebook Watch features a wide variety of content from curators who use the platform in the same way creators use YouTube and Instagram TV. If you follow them on those platforms, there is a good chance you will end up following them on Facebook Watch.
Similar to YouTube and Vimeo, Facebook Watch also offers a way for talented content creators to gain compensation for their efforts. Facebook’s video platform has two different ways creators can monetize their videos. Both methods involve inserting ads or short commercials into videos. If you watch a video on Facebook Watch, and the creator has monetized it, you'll have to watch commercials during the video. This opens the door to really incentivize talented individuals to take their talents to the popular streaming service that has almost as many users as there are people on the planet. In all, it will be pretty cool for people to start making money for uploading videos to Facebook.
In addition to user-generated content, the service will also develop Facebook Originals similar to the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, with the hopes of making them a significant contender in the streaming wars. This exclusive content hopes to pull consumers from other platforms. They include Red Table Talk, an interview series hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, who impressively has attained more than 7.9 million Facebook fans. There is also The Real World reboot with Bunim-Murray Productions, which also makes Ball in the Family for Facebook Watch and MTV, garnering more than 46 million followers on the social networking site on its own. Live streaming of sports content from the likes MLB, WWE, PGA, college football, as well as other sources will also be available on Facebook Watch.
Facebook’s platform has some serious advantages coming into this war. It is a place where people spend so much of their time already and are always looking for something to enjoy. They have established an incredibly large user base, and people already trust the name. Everyone is basically already signed up for their service, and it is just a matter of time before their platform becomes the go-to for so many of its users when it comes to online content. The more they grow and expand their original programming, the more they will start to pull users away from the likes of Netflix and YouTube. One thing consumers love is convenience, and when they are already spending large amounts of time on the site, it only makes sense to save them the trouble of opening YouTube or turning on Netflix to watch great content. This not only makes Facebook’s video platform a serious competitor in the race for screen dominance, but it also makes them a powerful adversary that its competitors should not underestimate.
Another new video streaming service set to launch next year with high-quality, short-form entertainment backed by Hollywood is Quibi. This new venture comes from Jeffrey Katzenberg, he former boss of Walt Disney Studios. This unique platform is designed as a mobile-only, subscription-based service. It will offer users access to premium content ranging in the seven to ten minutes range at a time until the full story has been told. The platform is focused on content for mobile users to take advantage of the spare time and in-between moments in peoples' everyday lives.
Quibi will have to contend with the likes of streaming powerhouse Netflix and Amazon for a piece of the paid streaming sector, as well as go toe-to-toe with free platforms specializing in short-form content, such as Facebook Watch and Snapchat. Quibi hopes to stand out from its competition's free offerings like Facebook and Snapchat by going big on budget with backing from the biggest names in Hollywood. And Quibi isn’t wasting any time as they have already enlisted some influential players.
The entertainment platform has the backing of some of Hollywood’s major players. This includes such powerhouses as 21st Century Fox, Disney, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, NBCUniversal, Entertainment One, Viacom, Lionsgate, and Warner Media. Katzenberg has confirmed that within the first year there will be 7,000 pieces of content.
Among this impressive slate of programming includes You Ain’t Got These, which is an unscripted series by Emmy Award-winning writer, and producer Lena Waithe. The series will be exploring the ever-popular fashion-forward sneaker culture. Also said to be appearing on Quibi will be revivals of such classic MTV hits as Punk’d and Singled Out. From the world of Television Lost co-creator Jeff Lieber and Scorpion creator Nick Santora are set to bring their talents to the mobile-based platform for some scripted greatness.
From the world of cinema comes some rather big deals in today's movie game. Peter Farrelly, Steven Soderbergh, and even the great Steven Spielberg have all signed on to provide their services to the platform. Academy Award winner Guillermo Del Toro will also produce content for Quibi. And that’s not all, as more big names have yet to be announced. In addition to the scripted content creators, a dozen more high profile individuals will also bring unscripted content to the service as well.
Not only is Quibi poised to make a prominent impact when it arrives, but there is also something that everyone needs to remember about this so-called risky venture. Because the short-form friendly streaming platform is backed by almost every single significant entity in Hollywood, it already may be immune to failure. So even if the distribution end tanks, Quibi still has room to become a primary content provider of a format that is already on the rise. If Katzenberg’s service falters, it could very quickly change focus from being a distributor to just being a provider of content for the likes of its competitors like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max as well as everything in between. Basically, investors are walking around knowing this latest venture is already be too big to fail.