Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos “absolutely!” wants Apple, Disney, and WarnerMedia to bring it on, as these entertainment powerhouses encroach on Netflix’s streaming game. Netflix was the innovator when it came to direct-to-consumer streaming media, but it has faced competition in recent years from Hulu and Amazon. But now the companies that supply the content to these outlets want to cut out the middlemen and offer their goods to customers and keep all the profit.
Apple is expected to unveil its new streaming service, which will reportedly only be available on Apple devices, on March 25. With Disney’s buyout of 20th Century Fox closing on March 20, the House of Mouse will become the 60% controlling shareholder of Hulu but is also launching the family-friendly Disney+ streaming service which will offer new original ‘Star Wars’ and Marvel shows. Last year, Netflix’s license to carry the 1990s-00s sitcom ‘Friends’ ended, but after outcry from the public, the streamer shelled out $100 million just to keep the show available to stream for one more year. But when Warner Brothers launches its own service, WarnerMedia, ‘Friends’ won’t “be there for you” on Netflix, as all things WB– Looney Tunes, Hanna Barbera, DC Comics, ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Harry Potter’, The CW, and more– will shift over to WarnerMedia.
Sarandos confessed, “I have no idea what they’re doing until we see it. So, I have to really reserve comment and judgment.” But he added:
“We’ve been competing with 500 channels of cable and penetrated nearly every household in the world for a long time. So, it’s the same stable of competitors just very late to the game.”
Not only does Netflix have years worth of experience over the newcomers, but it is now a worldwide standard, something that not even Amazon and Hulu can say.
“We need to be good in parallel in getting Hollywood content to the world and more importantly from the world to everywhere else in the world. Sometimes you get something like Casa De Papel (Money Heist), that’s a global sensation at the same level of a Stranger Things in terms of how it plays around the world.”
Netflix is currently accessed by 600 million unique devices around the world.
One thing not discussed is the constant splintering of the streaming market. CBS All Access is the only place viewers can access ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ and Jordan Peele’s new ‘Twilight Zone’. Warner Brothers just launched a DC Comics-centric service, DC Universe, exclusively offering new series ‘Titans’ and ‘Doom Patrol’, plus the third season of beloved animated series ‘Young Justice’. Once Disney+ launches, it will be the only way fans can view the ‘Star Wars’ series ‘The Mandalorian’, and a line of Marvel shows, ‘Loki’, ‘Vision and Scarlet Witch’ with more planned. Add to that the fact that to watch the hottest show on regular cable, ‘Game of Thrones’, one must pay extra for HBO. ‘American Gods’? Starz.
Enough will eventually be enough, and I predict the consumer breaking point will arrive sooner rather than later. As more and more streaming services appear, that means the existing outlets will lose content. As fans start getting less bang for their buck, they are going to start ditching services, whether that’s canceling cable, or memberships to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon.
But keep checking back to see how this race fares.