Streaming Wars Gain Renewed Vigor as Disney Officially Enters the Fray
Disney (NYSE:DIS) has officially thrown its hat into the crowded streaming ring with Tuesday’s launch of the much-anticipated Disney Plus service. Boasting an extensive library of popular shows and movies for $7 per month, Disney is all set to take on Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) on its own turf.
Netflix may have the upper hand for now with its 150 million global subscribers, however, Disney has priced its content streaming service at a relatively frugal price point of $6.99 per month. Moreover, Verizon's (NYSE:VZ) Wireless subscribers with unlimited plans will get to enjoy the Disney Plus service for an entire year without any additional cost which, in turn, may help in rapidly boosting Disney’s subscriber count. As an additional inducement, the company has also launched a $12.99 per month bundle that includes a subscription for its streaming service along with that of Hulu (with ads) and ESPN+. This means that users will be able to stream shows from NBC, ABC, Fox and more, along with ESPN content and everything on Disney Plus for the equivalent price of a Netflix monthly subscription.
Exclusive content highlights for Disney Plus include “The Mandalorian” – a live-action “Star Wars” series created by Jon Favreau – along with a prequel to the Star Wars movie “Rogue One” and a series about the Marvel character Loki.
At a time when the streaming sphere is growing increasingly crowded, Netflix has been steadily raising its prices over the last few years with its most popular plan currently costing $12.99 per month. While Netflix has been optimistic about the growing competition and believes that this rising tide of new competitors will lift all streaming service players, it has also admitted in its recent third-quarter earnings report that increased competition and higher prices could have an adverse impact on its subscriber growth (you will our pertinent coverage here).
Of course, Disney is not the only new entrant in this sphere. By May 2020, AT&T’s (NYSE:T) WarnerMedia will have launched its HBO Max streaming service. The $15-per-month service will feature 10,000 hours of streaming content at launch including 1,800 movies and a new Game of Thrones series. Moreover, alongside HBO’s existing content, the service will also feature 31 original series – known as Max Originals – in 2020. Additionally, in 2021, the service will stream 38 originals from HBO itself along with 50 Max Originals, thereby, bringing the total number of original series available for streaming to 88.
Comcast’s (NASDAQ:CMCSA) NBCUniversal is also expected to debut its first streaming service, called Peacock, by April 2020. The service will carry 15,000 hours of video at launch. Though the price of the service has not been disclosed yet, NBCUniversal has revealed that the platform’s content highlights will include reboots of “Battlestar Galactica” and “Saved by the Bell” along with comedy series “Rutherford Falls” and “Parks and Recreation.” It should be noted though that Peacock will only stream “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office” once existing deals with Netflix expire.
Finally, Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) streaming service – Apple TV Plus – launched earlier this month but its library remains limited to a handful of shows for now. It currently offers four scripted original series — Dickinson, For All Mankind, The Morning Show and See — along with an interview show, called Oprah's Book Club, and a number of series for children. The original series have been met, so far, with underwhelming reviews from critics and the platform is not expected to be a major player in the streaming sphere until it can beef up its offering.
The crowded streaming sphere has benefited consumers as platforms jockey for a lucrative slice of the market by providing their services at attractive price points. Nonetheless, consumers should not expect this largesse to last. Eventually, the prices are bound to increase and skeptics need only look at Netflix as an emblematic case study.