Welcome to “The Streaming Wars,” where we outline the top stories in television streaming from the past month. With new platforms and shows being announced every day, it can be hard to keep track of everything that’s happening in the world of television streaming. We’re here to give you the breakdown of who’s making deals and making moves.
This month: The House of Mouse is finally dropping its much anticipated streaming platform, and other companies are starting to feel the heat. Plus, we explain why networks are throwing around billions of dollars for overall deals with creators.
Strap In Folks; It’s Disney+ Time
Disney+ is set to launch on the 12th of this month, marking the first streaming provider to bear the Walt Disney Company name. That’s not to say that Disney is unfamiliar with the world of streaming; the media giant has also been the driving force behind Hulu for several months now. But unlike with Hulu, Disney+ has been given a significant marketing push by the company. The most recent campaign included a lengthy twitter thread of every title that would be available upon launch, as well as a 3-hour trailer with clips from every single title available.
It. Is. Time. From Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Mandalorian, check out basically everything coming to #DisneyPlus in the U.S. on November 12.
— Disney+ (@disneyplus) October 14, 2019
The upcoming launch of Disney+ has not been without controversy, however. Just this past week, the news broke that all Disney-owned TV networks would cease running ads for Netflix, with network executives explaining that this was a strategic move to improve Disney+’s ability to compete with Netflix. mxdwn writer Ashton Hughes notes that since the announcement of Disney+, “Disney’s overall revenue has gone up 33% from the prior year— a $20.2 billion increase.” Due to the competitive relationship between Disney+ and Netflix, it is expected that more Disney titles will be moved off of Netflix in the future.
Peacocks and Apples and Dragons (Oh My!)
Disney isn’t the only major media company dipping its toe into the world of streaming. Three other new major streaming platforms are set to launch as competitors in the coming months. The first of the bunch is Apple’s new platform Apple TV+, which actually launches today, November 1st. Despite generating a bit less media buzz than some of its competitors, Apple TV+ has secured a few renowned creators for the platform, including Academy Award-winning director Alfonso Cuarón. Apple TV+ also boasts a competitive price; only $5 per month.
Additionally, in April of 2020, Comcast/NBCUniversal will be launching their new streaming platform Peacock, which will feature titles from the NBC library as well as original content. Following that, May of 2020 will see the launch of HBO Max, which will serve as the new home for HBO shows like Game of Thrones, as well as other WarnerMedia-owned shows such as Friends. All of these new platforms are hoping to compete with more established streamers like Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix.
Netflix Would Like You To Keep It Bingeable, Please
Speaking of Netflix, the combination streaming platform/network has also made news in the past few weeks, with many of its most popular shows being cancelled. Many of the shows that have been cancelled are ones that were seemingly successful, and only within their first few seasons. Some of the cancelled shows, such as One Day at a Time, have been able to find new homes with other networks. However, most of these cancelled shows have become dropped projects, such as Tuca & Bertie, which, despite receiving a 100% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes, was cancelled after only one season.
In a recent interview with Polygon, creator of The Dragon Prince Aaron Ehasz explained why Netflix might be giving shows the axe after just a few seasons. Because of Netflix’s interface, Ehasz explains, shows will naturally have more viewers in season 1 than season 2, more in 2 than 3, and so on. This ends up distorting Netflix’s data and implies that shows with fewer seasons are more valuable. Ehasz expressed his hope that Netflix will “start to see past the weird distorted data that they’re gathering and recognize that true great hits are things that gained steam later.”
Mega Deals With Mega Creators
Finally, let’s talk business. Among the established streaming platforms like Amazon and Netflix, we’ve begun to notice a trend of TV providers making huge overall deals with prominent creators. Most notable among these is Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who, following her Emmys success in September, signed a $20 million/year contract with Amazon Studios. Amazon has made comparable deals with other creators and executives in the past few months, as has Netflix. This big-spending trend is also present with streamers trying to secure rights to shows. Most recently, a bidding war for the animated show South Park ended with HBO Max paying over $500 million for the title.
When asked by The Hollywood Reporter about this big-spending mentality among streamers, one studio chief explained that we’re currently in a television arms race. “It’s either buy it now or it’s gone — and we’re gearing up for war now.”