Streaming Wars: Everybody Wins

With Disney+ reporting ten million subscribers in its first 24 hours in existence and demand for it nearly breaking the internet, the new streaming platform can claim to be an unqualified success.

Granted, we don’t know how many will remain after the free one-week trial, or how many are taking advantage of the free with Verizon deal, but early feedback seems strong. Disney was wise to bring attention to the fact that a lot of its earlier content may be offensive because of past cultural stereotyping. The quality of breadth of content with Pixar, Disney and Marvel’s combined strengths is impressive.

We will soon know how many streaming services the average consumer will pay for. Because I’m an Amazon Prime customer anyway, I don’t think about that one as much, probably taking it for granted. But there are great finds there, too.

Everyone has Netflix with 150 million plus subscribers. Apple TV will be an interesting case study—because a lot of us have new iPhone 11s and with a new MacPro coming out, it may become a default like being a Prime member. The holding power of Apple’s slate of content remains to be seen while “The Morning Show” brings substantial star power.

Will there be room for NBC’s Peacock, AT&T’s HBO Max and others?

It is an amazing period of transition in video entertainment. Not too many years ago, broadcast offered a lot of great options. Then, we found the best programs on cable, think MADMEN, FARGO, and even THE WALKING DEAD in its earlier years.

On pay cable, HBO ruled with GAME OF THRONES.Then the content on streaming services seemed more compelling, like THE CROWN or MINDHUNTER on Netflix, JACK RYAN on Prime. Hulu has THE HANDMAID’S TALE.

Many consumers are willing to cut the cord and pay ten bucks a month to avoid commercials. But live TV (cable and broadcast) still has bright spots, from news to selective TV shows (I’ve decided I like PRODIGAL SON) and live sports. How many streaming services is a consumer willing to pay for? There is a window for the traditional networks to compete.

Putting on mass-appeal shows seems more difficult when there is so much diversification in the marketplace. Difficult, but not impossible. The big four broadcast networks will have to innovate, take risks and compete. Their platform is shrinking but it is still a bully pulpit.