As people stayed indoors and consumed entertainment online, streaming companies could not have asked for more.
By: Ashutosh Sinha
In normal times, this unfolding battle would hardly be noticed. But in a world which is keeping people indoors, millions are turning into subscribers, turning the battle more intense.
Streaming companies, pushed by galloping demand from cord-cutters, are making the most of the opportunity as more and more people watch online content on their devices. An idea pioneered by Netflix in the last decade turned mainstream earlier and is now set to grow exponentially.
Television was invented in 1923 and, nearly 100 years later, one of the biggest opportunities for the screen is unfolding. HBO Max launched this week as a new streaming service. With nearly a dozen mainstream companies, the consumer is richer with the choice of programming.
Connected devices rule Apple launched the iPhone in June 2007 Google launched Android in September 2008. Android now runs over 80 percent of the world’s smartphones and, along with Apple, the two-run nine out of 10 smartphones.
Streaming companies like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney, and Hulu have managed to snuggle themselves between devices and the internet provider. Each subscriber is now ready to pay a monthly subscription for access to entertainment content.
As people stayed indoors and consumed entertainment online, streaming companies could not have asked for more. Netflix managed to corner a record 15.8 million paying subscribers. Disney’s streaming service now has already got over 50 million subscribers in six months.
- Launch – November 12, 2019
- 10 million – November 13, 2019
- 50 million – April 8, 2020
As Disney has shown, content is king. So high are the stakes that Amazon has paid $250 million to acquire the rights for Lord of the Rings to make a television series. No wonder, more players are coming in.
HBO enters the race With the war getting cutthroat, this week HBO Max, a new streaming service entered the race. If rivals were expecting that it could price the service aggressively, they were relieved.
- HBO Max: $14.99
- Netflix: $12.99
- Hulu: $11.99*
- Peacock: $9.99*
- CBS: $9.99*
- Prime Video: $8.99
- Quibi: $7.99*
- Disney+: $6.99
- AppleTV+: $4.99
Note: Monthly subscription for ad free version
AT&T, which bought Warner Media (which owns HBO) in 2018 for $85 billion, will have to reach out to the cord-cutters. It is yet to sign up with Roku or Amazon, the largest digital streaming service hardware brand.
Quibi has signed up celebrities including Steven Spielberg and Bill Murray as contributors. On Feb 2, it ran a Super Bowl ad, promising “episodes in 10 minutes or less”.
Streaming services largely don’t have commercial breaks. Hulu has a cheaper version of its monthly service with short ad breaks. The challenge for all the newcomers will be to retain loyalty while ensuring subscription revenues.
Who could be the winner?
Netflix has already raced well ahead of its rivals with over 182.9 million subscribers. In April 2020, it announced that it has added 15.8 million subscribers, more than 2X of what it expected three months ago. It may take a herculean effort, if not far more, for anyone to come anywhere near Netflix. It is now looking to expand in the Indian market in a big way.
The meteoric rise of Disney+ has been the envy of all its rivals. Since its launch in November 2019, it managed to get subscribers even before its rivals realized what was happening. Over 600 shows, movies, and more content, rivals have little hope too. With movies and shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, like Marvel’s Hero Project, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, and Hannah Montana, no competitor can imagine taking the company head-on.
Disney has been pocketing an estimated $300 million in revenue by putting its movies, shows, and other content on rival platforms. These popular shows are expensive to buy and Disney is in the best position to reap a rich harvest with its library.
Now, dear viewer, sit back, relax, and enjoy the entertainment experience.