War Of Streaming Services

BY HASSAN SOHAIL 

“I founded Netflix. I’ve built it steadily over 12 years now, first with DVD becoming profitable in 2002, a head-to-head ferocious battle with Blockbuster and evolving the company toward streaming.”

In 2011, Netflix’s founder-cum-CEO Reed Hastings stated the above in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, when a price hike misstep by him, prompted lost around 800,000 subscribers, slumped the company’s market value to half and almost derailed the future of the company.

Subsequently, Netflix’s finance team sound strategy combined with Reed Hastings rendered “I messed up” apology note to a slew of livid subscribers and skeptical investors turned the tide in Netflix favor. With a year later, the company’s streaming subscriber numbers mushroomed. Moreover, Netflix was hailed as the “best-performing stock of the decade”.

However, Netflix’s peerless position in the streaming space was challenged by the deep-pocketed upstarts. The Hollywood powerhouse Walt Disney Co., to tech giant Apple Inc., all lined to oust the streaming king, subsequently commences the streaming wars.

The streaming wars began two years ago, with the entrance of Disney in the streaming television with the launch of their own streaming service named Disney+. The streaming service racked up 10 million subscribers on its launch day, also predicted to draw in 100 million subscribers by 2025. But that doesn’t make Disney+, a big deal in the streaming race.

What makes Disney a potential rival to Netflix was its vast library of popular shows and movies, ranging from Disney’s  enamored animated films to Marvel’s top-notch superhero movies, plus pitching the service at a lowball price of $7 dollar per month, compared to Netflix’s $13. The smart, pricing move meld with stellar content made the Disney+ formidable in the online subscription market.

Disney’s foray within the streaming TV market in last November was clashed by Apple’s own streaming service. Tech behemoth Apple rolled out its streaming arm called Applet+. Though, Apple TV Plus is a minnow, when compared with Netflix and Disney’s massive libraries. However, the streaming services has poached A-list actors and content creators to offer to their subscribed members.

India has already emerged as the latest battleground for media bigwigs. To the extent that Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings asserted the “next 100 million users of the Netflix will come from India”. His rival Amazon Prime Video, snagged the Bollywood’s cream to produce local content with the likes of Akshay Kumar and Anushka Sharma. Besides, the streaming service released 10 original Indian shows in 2019 alone. While Disney+ is just too, prepping to make its debut to capture the booming Indian market in May 2020.

Meanwhile, in this streaming race, Pakistan’s role compared to its larger neighbor is peripheral. However, streaming juggernauts were captivated by Pakistan’s growing market and versatile acting talent. Consequently, Pakistani drama star Zahid Ahmed was roped in for Netflix’s first original series from Pakistan. Moreover, another Pakistani web-series titled “Mind Games” is probably going to feature on Netflix, as indicated by the series creators.

The streaming wars are escalating across the world. According to a report by The Diffusion Group, all major TV media could launch on-demand streaming services by 2022. “Big media companies are reacting more boldly to changes in TV viewing behavior,” Mike Berkley, TDG senior advisor and author of the new report, said. “Consolidating, bulking up on originals and marketing directly to consumers are driving their strategic direction.”

However, on streaming wars, from Disney to Apple executives denied there is one. Netflix’s CEO, even called streaming wars “a good thing for business.” But, the recent move by Disney to ban Netflix ads on its networks highlighted the extreme competition.

The on-demand video streaming is approximately $24 billion industry. With the video subscription market is predicted to reach $687.2 billion by 2024. Hence, every major player in the game wants to grab a bigger piece of the pie.

(Hassan Sohail is an avid reader with a knack for writing, and a history buff. hassansohail1708@gmail.com)

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