Netflix- the streaming giant has long been untouchable and on its own in the streaming market, with its main competitors unable to get close in terms of numbers and dominance of the market.
The company recently announced that its year end subscribers total 139 million, and estimates it now has 10% of all screen time in the US.
Lately, Netflix has diversified to become much more than a streaming site, using its vast budgets to produce stunning TV and films, that have also been tipped for Oscars success, mainly foreign language film Roma. It calls them Netflix Originals, and many are becoming household names (The Crown, Stranger Things, Orange is The New Black).
The company has until recently been largely unchallenged by its competitors, such as Amazon Prime Video, and in the US Hulu.
Netflix was the first to realise the potential of the streaming market, and has since got over 139 million subscribers, as stated in the end of year report, with Amazon some 30 Million behind them.
But 2019 sees the launch of a few companies that might seriously rival Netflix for both subscribers and original content.
First among these is media conglomerate Disney. The studio responsible for some of the biggest box office hits including Mary Poppins Returns, Star Wars and the Marvel films, has announced it’s ended its relationship with Netflix, signalling potentially the start of a dramatic streaming battle between the two giants.
Disney’s new streaming service called Disney+ will launch later this year, and with the money and pedigree of a studio like Disney it’s sure to lure in subscribers. The question is will it take away from Netflix’s huge audience?
If this were 2012, before the streaming site transitioned into a production and distribution company, maybe it would have caused more concern. But Netflix has shown over recent years that as well as having it’s 139 million audience at the ready to watch anything it releases, it can also hold its own in the production world. One of its recent endeavours, Bird Box, staring Sandra Bullock, had an estimated 45 million views within the first week of it being live on the site.
Another company, the tech giant Apple, is also aiming to compete with Netflix and Amazon.
Apple has already made a dent on the music streaming service with its Apple Music, and it’s out to do the same with TV. Apple Music has over 40 Million subscribers and is still some way behind the leading music streaming service Spotify, which has 87 million, but it’s steadily making up ground, gaining an estimated 2 million subscribers a month.
Earlier this month Apple got a huge boost to plans to launch a streaming service, with Samsung, LG and Sony all announcing they’ll put in place software to enable users to watch Apple’s content on their (Smart) TVs.
It’s thought Apple can see the potential for producing its own original content, but details are vague at the moment although some of the industry’s biggest names are rumoured to be working for them.
La La Land’s Director Damian Chazelle is thought to have made a new series, with a team based in LA which isn’t short of a few big names itself. Ex-Sony execs Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht are seen to be leading the team, also the former BBC One controller and ex Channel 4 Executive Jay Hunt is thought to be involved.
Apple has deep pockets and is looking at spending up to $4.2 billion by 2020 on original content. That seems a lot, but it’s still some way behind Amazon and Netflix, which are both spending big on their own content, with Amazon committing $8.3bn and Netflix $6.8 respectively.
Will 2019 be the year we finally see two or potentially more big competitors taking on Netflix at the top of the streaming world? We’ll have to wait and see. What is for certain is that for customers, the streaming war will mean more content than ever, and on a wider range of platforms.