With the real streaming wars just about to begin, how solid is Netflix’s market dominance?
How big a market is the media streaming customer base?
Globally, there are estimated to be 700 million households using streaming services outside of China. That is a lot of viewers. Competition for audiences is tough, and set to become much tougher with the launch of new streaming services from big names such as Disney and Apple.
How dominant is Netflix in the streaming market?
Launched in 1997 originally as a DVD rental service, Netflix has cornered the market particularly in the US. They boast over 158 million paying subscribers, plus an additional 5.5 million users on their free trial.
The Netflix stronghold is based in the US, with 60.62 million or 38% of their customer base being in America.
Netflix subscriptions start at £5.99 for their basic plan, come with a 30-day free trial and have flexible cancellation clauses. The beauty of the service is that users can log in and watch on any device and so can take their movies with them!
There are some strong title contenders and Netflix Originals launching in Autumn 2019. These include the new Peaky Blinders season, season 3 of Big Mouth, and movie exclusives such as The Laundromat and El Camino, the new Jesse Pinkman movie; see the trailer below.
So with this market share and strength of offering, which services are threatening to topple Netflix off of their throne?
Launching in November, Disney bring a huge back catalogue and list of exclusives to the array of customer choice, with studios including Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, the beloved Natural Geographic and – of course – Disney.
The service will cost subscribers $6.99 a month in the US, and will be available on iOS, Android, Apple TV, PS4, Xbox One, internet browsers and Android TV. Pretty much everywhere, then!
The big threat of Disney Plus is the worldwide love of the brand, and the associated labels within their powerful back catalogue, as well as first access to new releases such as Captain Marvel. There will certainly be a serious offering of exclusives through Disney Plus which won’t be available anywhere else. And a launch date just in time for Christmas – clever.
Whilst we can’t yet know what subscriber numbers will look like, it is certainly a threat that Netflix can’t be ignoring.
Another big competitor is Prime Video; included in Amazon Prime membership at a cost of £7.99 per month inclusive of free Prime delivery and with a free 30-day trial.
Prime Video offers a competitive live sports package, Prime Exclusives and Amazon Original Series. With the option of cancelling membership at any time the service is a user friendly one, and given the 100 million+ US subscribers is a force to be reckoned with.
What does Prime Video offer that Netflix doesn’t? Popular exclusives and new releases include the new series of Billy Bob Thornton’s Goliath, Toy Story 4 (but only on a buy or rent basis), and Spiderman: Far From Home.
The huge customer base of Amazon give them a captive audience and a chunk of the market who receive the Prime Video service in effect for free alongside their delivery membership.
Apple TV Plus
Launching on 1st November, at a subscription rate of £4.99/month after a 7-day trial, Apple TV+ is also looking to get in on the streaming action. Whilst the free trial period is shorter than some competitors, the subscription cost is slightly lower and Apple have a lot of brand loyalty to rely on.
The subscription is offered free of charge to all new Apple hardware purchasers for the first 12-months. This means every person buying a new iPhone or other Apple tech will automatically become a free subscriber. According to Statista this could equate to well over 217 million users, with that volume of new iPhones alone being shipped each year.
Bringing exciting new offerings and Apple Originals ranging from See starring Jason Mamoa, through to kids offerings such as Snoopy in Space, Apple TV+ is betting big.
With Hulu’s subscriber base hitting 28 million earlier this year after launching in 2007, they are another contender not to be taken lightly. Hulu offers a range of subscription services starting at $5.99/month, with optional add-ons and upgrades available. There is a standard free trial of 7-days with occasional offers for a longer period.
Offering subscribers a large index of media and films, Hulu includes access to channels and catalogues such as HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and Starz and features Hulu Originals as well as live TV and sports coverage.
Just to throw another iron in the fire, WarnerMedia have announced that HBO Max streaming service will launch in Spring 2020. HBO is a big deal in the US having been around since 1972 and with 142 million total subscribers. Of those 54 million are in the US.
HBO is already a powerhouse of new TV, home to huge hits such as Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, and True Detective.
All the details aren’t yet clear, but it is estimated that HBO Max will carry a $15 monthly subscription. Quite pricey, but perhaps WarnerMedia are differentiating themselves as a premium service..?
There also isn’t yet a confirmed exact release date but with the existing might of HBO it could be a very major player. Check out the official promo below.
Are there other contenders in the streaming wars?
Vimeo video sharing platform, launched in 2004, offers a simple subscription service starting at £6 per month (although paid yearly). Originally a platform designed to enable filmmakers and media producers to share their content, Vimeo is now home to over 80 million creators. They had a subscriber base of 1.2 million at the start of the year.
Further user options include iQiyi Chinese video streaming platform, who are looking to expand their reach outside of China. Eros specialise in Bollywood movies, and HotStar show live sports, Indian TV and movies.
Which streaming service is the best choice?
Choice here is the operative word. With multiple competitors with their own niches, exclusives and channels, flexibility of use is becoming key. It seems very likely that the existing average 3.4 streaming services per US household may increase.
With new channels just set to launch we can’t yet know who will come out on top, but one thing is for sure; Netflix have a fight on their hands.