Netflix, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock—name it, in most cases, one in ten people is subscribed to it. With the massive growth in the TV streaming industry, it’s not news for many that the battle of streaming services has just begun. With all the streaming services that have emerged in the past few years, everyone has been competing to be the best streaming service, from the streaming giants like Netflix and Disney to newbies like Peacock and Sling TV. Unfortunately, the success of a few might be the end for many.
Every streaming service is unique. For example, Netflix is known for its affordable, ad-free plans (although affordability might not last for long as Netflix keeps increasing its price) and original films. While Peacock offers a free, ad-supported version, allowing users to enjoy shows with occasional advertisements in between. Nonetheless, with so many services with different goals, it would be fairly easy for every company to claim itself as the winner.
Fortunately, not every streaming service needs to win to be successful. Success is never earned after a year or so—some of these streaming service providers might evolve after years, even though others only took months to take off. Without ado, let’s dive into what’s happening inside the battle of the century.
Subscription Growth: Is Netflix Still on Top?
During the first three months of 2022, Disney has already added 7.9 million new subscribers, bringing a total of 87.6 subscriptions worldwide, not including Disney Plus Hotstar’s subscribers of 50.1 million. But in US and Canada alone, Disney Plus has earned a total of 7.1 million more subscribers, significantly higher than what it had last year. That said, Disney is still on track to reach its target of at least 230 million subscribers by 2024.
Unfortunately, with Netflix, it has been continuously losing subscribers. With its massive loss of 200,000 subscribers globally, the company is forecasting even bigger losses in the future. According to Netflix, it could still lose up to two million subscribers in the second quarter of 2022. But even with the losses, Netflix ended with around 222 million subscribers, so it still remains the largest streaming service. However, it won’t be long until Netflix leaves that throne if they cannot bounce back from the massive losses that they are experiencing.
Content Remains King for TV Streaming Services
While several competitors have created competing services, Sony Pictures went a different path and signed a licensing agreement with Netflix in April 2021 for its feature films. Netflix will benefit from the negotiated contract by having access to both direct-to-streaming and theatrically distributed films. Moreover, while Disney, WarnerMedia, and NBCUniversal have pulled their greatest content for their own streaming platforms, Sony Pictures will assist Netflix in expanding its catalog with upcoming films like Morbius and Where the Crawdads Sing.
Unfortunately, HBO Max’s lack of public awareness and brand identity may have limited its ability to attain its full potential. While HBO’s cable channel has its own brand of high-quality shows, HBO Max is intended to be inclusive of all WarnerMedia material.
Alas, with a name like HBO Max, this truth may not be readily apparent to all potential subscribers. HBO Max’s content catalog includes shows from Warner Brothers, Cartoon Network, HBO, and nearly half of The CW. The high level of overlap between HBO Max subscribers and HBO cable channel subscribers could indicate that HBO Max’s wide collection has not been made evident to potential users.
Unique Preferences of Subscribers
The most significant factor that will dictate the users’ decision is their content preferences. So, for example, if you’re a big fan of Disney movies and series, such as the High School Musical or Marvel series, you will definitely opt for Disney Plus. However, if you prefer Latino TV channels, then you will likely pick Sling TV over Netflix or Disney Plus. That said, it boils down to one question: how can the streaming services cater to the varied needs of the market?
Well, in most cases, they won’t directly cater to those needs. These streaming service providers will do it their own way so that their branding will not be affected, especially for companies like Disney and HBO. As mentioned above, every streaming service has its own unique goals. So, there will be times when a specific trend or demand will only benefit one streaming service, while the others will be left untouched.
Innovation in TV Streaming
Netflix doesn’t usually produce theatrical films unless they are trying to get into prestige award shows, and this is a well-known fact and part of how they make money. Moreover, the only place to watch Netflix-made movies is on Netflix. But streaming services like HBO Max and Disney Plus have to think about the other parts of their parent companies, like releasing their shows in theaters for over a hundred years.
However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, both Disney+ and HBO Max have used lockdowns and restrictions to try to get more subscribers and take over as Netflix’s biggest rival. They have used the pandemic to change the strategies for many of their movies that would normally come out in theaters first. Instead, they are going straight to their new streaming platforms. Also, many subscription services have tried the “Netflix model” in an attempt to earn more subscribers.
Streaming Services Plans and Pricing
Aside from content preferences, pricing is the major dealbreaker for many users. Unfortunately, even if the content library is good, but the prices are higher than most streaming service providers, users will likely opt for a different one. With our table below, you will notice that Apple TV and Hulu are the most affordable streaming service right now, while Netflix and HBO Max is tied at their basic plans.
All of Netflix’s plans remain ad-free. However, it is expected this year that they will release an ad-supported tier, which may mean one of these two things: One, they will convert their basic plan to an ad-supported version, or two, they will develop an entirely new ad-supported plan. But given the recent price increase, the chances of the former are higher.
|STREAMING SERVICE||PLANS & PRICING||SIMULTANEOUS STREAMS||ORIGINAL CONTENT|
|Disney Plus||Disney+ only: $7.99/month
Disney Bundle (Ad-supported): $13.99/ month
Disney Bundle (Ad-free Hulu): $19.99/month
|Amazon Prime||Prime Video Only: $8.99/month
Amazon Prime: $14.99/month
Amazon Prime (EBT & Medicaid Recipients): $6.99/month
|Hulu||Hulu Ad-supported: $6.99/month
Hulu Ad-free: $12.99/month
Hulu Ad-supported with Disney+, ESPN Plus, & Live TV: $69.99/month
Hulu Ad-free with Disney+, ESPN Plus, & Live TV: $75.99/month
|HBO Max||HBO Max Ad-supported: $9.99/month
HBO Max Ad-free: $14.99/month
|Sling TV||Sling Orange: $35/month
Sling Blue: $35/month
Sling Orange & Blue: $504.99/month
|One to Three||No|
If you don’t mind the occasional advertisements in between your movie nights, you can greatly save a few bucks from ad-supported tiers from HBO, Hulu, and Disney. However, if you don’t like any advertisements at all, you may want to stick with Netflix or Apple TV or shed a few more dollars per month.
You also have to keep in mind that your entire TV streaming does not end with you paying for your monthly subscription fee. You also have to take into consideration the electricity consumption and internet bills required to provide you with a great streaming experience. So, if you’re on a strict budget, you might want to consider subscribing to only one service which suits your preference and monthly budget.
Who’s the Real Winner?
It’s impossible to tell which is the winning streaming service if we were to consider every need and preference of all streaming service users. But, if these streaming services are to be on a level playing field where they need to meet certain criteria, it would still be likely that Netflix will win the battle. Even with the continuous losses of the streaming giant, it claims that it was all expected due to the sudden price increase that happened earlier this year.
The question is, will Netflix continue to stay winning with all the competition rising, especially Disney Plus? It’s been years since Netflix dominated the streaming industry, and its effects were massively felt by cable TV providers. However, now that more and more people are starting to get unsatisfied with their subscriptions, mostly with Netflix’s plan to add an ad-supported tier, Netflix’s days might get gloomier as time passes by—unless they do something about it.
Don’t miss out on the greatest battle of this time, and stay updated with the latest updates of each streaming service. Outside the battle arena, it’s still the users that will benefit from this head-to-head war between these streaming service providers.