The team of the Netflix movie platform had it hopes before this year’s Academy Awards. With a total of 10 nominations and a stellar cast including Robert de Niro, Al Pacino and the ubiquitous Martin Scorsese, their gangster drama, The Irishman, was among the favourites for the golden statuettes. That is why the disappointment was huge when the film did not win a single prize of the Film Academy.
What happened? How could one of the most liked and commented films in recent months not be selected in any category? The answer, according to film critics, lies in the name of Netflix, the platform on which the film was broadcasted. This year’s Oscars have become the most eloquent proof of a trend we have been observing in recent years more and more – the film industry is afraid of streaming platforms.
This fear can be found even more often in the critical comments of prominent filmmakers, including the iconic producer Steven Spielberg, as well as in the attempts of traditional studios to limit the impact of online film platforms. What we witnessed during the Oscars was just the strongest salvo in a battle that has already begun.
On the one side of the barricade is one of the most influential industries on the planet – Hollywood, whose powerful studios have dictated viewers’ attitudes for decades. On the other is the fast-growing technology industry, which has already shown that it is not afraid to fight against segments, such as telecommunications, car manufacturing, financial services and a number of other industries at the same time – on their territory.
A Battle for the Future of Entertainmen
Some of the players in the dynamic movie streaming segment are leading online corporations with interests in multiple markets, such as Amazon, with its Prime service. Others, like Netflix, are entirely focused on the sector. Still others, like HBO Now, are part of big traditional film companies, but with the ambition to establish themselves as technology platforms. And while the traditional film industry is pondering on how to respond to Netflix and co., the latter will have to take into consideration a new and even more ambitious competition that will completely reshape this market in the coming months.
These are some promising projects that are about to go into the battle for the viewers’ attention this year. Each one of them with its own strong productions and unique business model. This is who they are:
Launched last November, the Cupertino Giant’s platform is the long-awaited response to Netflix. For USD 4.99 a month, it will provide access to high-quality titles and show stars, including Oprah Winfrey, as well as promising series, such as See and For All Mankind. Apple’s opportunity to offer subscriptions together with other services, as well as its devices, will help its rapid distribution.
This is probably the most anticipated new streaming platform because of the huge catalogue of titles the entertainment giant has included. In order to establish its service, Disney intends to use all the weapons in its arsenal, including their Star Wars franchises (as well as the popular The Mandalorian series), Pixar, the Marvel cinema universe, and several accompanying series, The Simpsons and many more. It’s a double strike on Netflix, as the platform will not only encounter a powerful new competitor, but many of these titles have been available through it until recently. Like Apple TV+, Disney+ was also launched last November, and is yet to gain ground in the coming months. The monthly subscription fee is USD 6.99.
The new HBO project is expected to be launched in May this year in response to Netflix but also to Disney+, and will also include many franchise titles owned by the parent company – Time Warner. They will include films from the DC Comics universe, the Friends series, The Big Bang Theory, South Park, etc. The service will be much more expensive than the previous two platforms – USD 14.99 a month.
A new platform with a slightly different concept. It will rely on various types of short films (most titles will be up to 10 minutes long) and will be mostly targeted towards tablets and smartphones. And that means – to a younger audience. The launch was announced in April 2020, and the service will be available in two versions – for USD 4.99 with ads and for USD 7.99 – without ads. Among the innovations that Quibi intends to introduce is, for example, the Spielberg’s After Dark horror series, which would only be available to watch when night has completely fallen.
This platform supported by the media giant NBC Universal, will also be launched in April. Among its strong suit there are popular movie titles from the catalogue of Universal, such as Shrek, Return to the Future and Jaws, as well as the sitcom The Office, which will be stolen from Netflix. The price is still unknown, but the service is also expected to have an ads-included version available through the media group’s network.
The Winner Takes it All
The stakes in this race are huge because, according to the latest research, most users in Europe, the US and other regions tend to pay only one subscription for online content per month. This means that the growing number of movie platforms will be in direct competition for every user, both with each other and with the news media and all other content providers. This most probably will create in the future a market dominated by several big players, which will be extremely difficult to move from the first positions.