We are amidst a war. Yet this one is not fought with weapons, but with content. As I’m sure you’ve already heard, Disney+ is the latest entrant to this battle, and it’s gotten red hot. The major players of the Streaming Wars now include Netflix, Hulu, HBO, CBS, Amazon, Apple, and Disney. More are soon to come, like NBC’s Peacock. Even Facebook has their own streaming service now.
Streaming used to be a fantastic, cheap, alternative to traditional cable TV. It became very attractive because you only paid for what you wanted, and could usually consume content through various means like TV, console, computer, and phone. Netflix was the first mainstream company offering a complete package, and it didn’t take long before it took off (and became a commonplace term… Netflix and chill). Netflix has been able to wear the streaming crown for a good while now. Sure, there have been other competitors along the way but none of them have managed to really threaten Netflix’s popularity. However, this may not be the case for long.
It’s been a couple of days since Disney+ launched, and the company announced it already has 10 million subscribers. Naturally, some of these people may be taking advantage of the free 7 day trial, but that number is still pretty damn impressive either way. With National Geographic, Marvel, and of course, classic Disney movies and shows, Disney+ is a compelling option at a reasonable $6.99. Watch out Netflix…
Clearly more companies are trying to get a piece of the pie. It’s getting to the point where it’s overwhelming for consumers because everybody and their mother is offering a streaming service. So which one(s) should you pay for? But that’s a good problem to have, isn’t it? As opposed to traditional cable, consumers have greater power for what they want to consume, at the prices they desire with streaming options. Yet, content oversaturation is a real problem that providers have to consider. It might not be enough to just offer a great product anymore since multiple other companies are doing it. From podcasts, to shows, and music, people have millions of companies competing for their wallets, and eyeballs.
So what happens next? Will a few streaming companies rise to the top and take over? Will Netflix be dethroned? Or will we come back full circle to a company offering all services under one bundle as cable 2.0? Consumer interest is always changing, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the evolution come full circle. Ultimately, it will come down to who can capitalize on their brand affinity, and offer a standout service to survive the intense fight.
A new market is emerging with experience at the center of it, with lots of money up for grabs. It’s no secret that the younger generations are increasingly moving towards experiential forms of entertainment. To boot, AirBnB just recently launched Experiences bundles, where people pair an adventure with their destination. While consuming content in a video format won’t go away anytime soon, a shift in consumer behavior could lead to an opening of a new market. This of course could take many forms. Millennials and Gen-Z alike gauge their quality of life through active experiences such as travel, classes, and festivals. Interactive shows and movies want to take advantage of this shift but will they be immersive enough to satisfy their need for adventure?
In the long term, I believe immersive entertainment will be king. Of course, there will always be people who would love to watch movies all Saturday long (read: me) but I think innovations with AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) will allow for a more real-life experience. There’s no doubt that we still have a ways to go, but I think that will be the next major splash in the entertainment industry, and it will be interesting to see how streaming reacts.
For now, streaming isn’t going away any time soon. Companies such as Disney, Apple, Netflix and Facebook have taught us to ignore skirmishes and concentrate on winning the long war. Fortunately, consumers may be the real winners. Competition usually reduces price, and, for companies that want to win, the pressure to produce popular, exciting and innovative content will be extreme.
Television is about to get fun again.