December 23, 2019 7:09 am

Streaming Wars: Will subscribers return to Netflix?

Streaming Wars: Will subscribers return to Netflix?
Credit: Brian Cantoni (Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons)

Despite the massive Streaming Wars movement that’s sweeping home entertainment, there’s a real chance everyone will return to the original giant, Netflix.

That’s at least according to CEO of Constellation Research R “Ray” Wang, who said, per Yahoo! Finance, “So Disney+ we’ll try something else, we’ll try Roku (ROKU), we’ll try Apple (AAPL), we’ll try whatever’s coming out there, but [ultimately] they’re all going to come back to Netflix.”

Is Wang right? Let’s break down how he could be, along with potential counterarguments.

Netflix familiarity factor a big Streaming Wars advantage


Let’s face it: big-name multinational brands like Amazon, and now Apple and Disney, get a lot of free advertising. Name recognition is huge.

But while Prime Video has been in the streaming consciousness for some time now, Netflix is the undisputed pioneer. The company spearheaded the streaming revolution, and Wang’s banking on that brand strength to allow Netflix to retain customers.

Amazon seems best equipped to continue being Netflix’s chief competition. However, some freshly minted streaming services may have something to say about that.

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Apple TV+ and Disney+ both launched last month. While the former is leaning heavily on original TV series, the latter can take solace in a huge back catalog of classic movies and big IPs like Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar.

No one has invested more heavily in original programming than Netflix, though. Disney can only count on nostalgia for so long; Apple has a lot of catching up to do and really needs a strong film collection to compete better.

Wang also says something in the Yahoo! report to counter those points, though:

“Apple itself is coming in at a very, very slow pace, but think about that — you’ve got almost a billion iPhone users that can suddenly become an Apple TV subscriber.


[…] It’s going to be [Netflix] plus something else, Disney+ plus Netflix… that’s going to be what the landscape will look like in North America.”

Yahoo! Finance

What’s on the horizon?

The bigger threats seem like HBO Max and Peacock. Both are launching in the first half of 2020.

HBO Max’s price point is $14.99 per month, but with such great TV in its vault and a ton more content on the way, its aggressive spending could ultimately justify the higher subscription cost.

Peacock is NBC’s new streamer, and unlike rival TV staple CBS, its platform seems to have real upside with tremendous content variety. CBS All Access doesn’t have the firepower to compete, although the Viacom-CBS merger could change that.

Wang may not be wrong that Netflix will be the last one standing once the Streaming Wars end, but there are going to be plenty of battles along the way. It may make stockholders sweat more than they already are.

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