The Streaming Wars – A Deep Dive Into the Battle For Your Screen Time

‘The Streaming Wars’, as we shall call the combat over your subscription dollars, started small, as a catfight between Netflix and Amazon. Now multi-billion dollar corporate conglomerates with legacy studio and linear network roots are competing to see who will sell you a streaming service.

Following another Hollywood year filled with brief work stoppages that shuttered production, those same investors are now looking for profits instead of growth – though not necessarily for viewers’ benefit.


Initially, the Streaming Wars seemed to be about toppling the ancien regimes and compelling hulking media titans to morph and adapt. A competition over which content would be exclusive where commenced. Status-anxious services like Netflix (NFLX) coveted the rights to original programming while other firms’ executives’ heads protruded over the parapets of the corporate keep declaring new lands they hoped to seize as Marvel (MARA) declared that, because television was a new frontier in warfare, it wanted to expand its intellectual property into ‘content soup’.

Spurred by new demand due to the greater availability of streaming content, concerns about viewer subscription fatigue, and a race to add both value and diversity to offerings, the inevitable begins: major players are merging and forming strategic alliances in a push to make offerings more valuable and diverse. Subscriber growth on some platforms appears to have hit a speedbump if not to be in freefall. Game over! Streaming wars have entered their final phase. There will be no more gleaming new entrants. Corporate mergers, buyouts and acquisitions will continue apace, with the SVOD landscape seemingly on a course for the long-term stability and sustainable growth envisioned above – caveat investor: if Netflix’s untouchable lead (they are first to switch over to an ad supported offer – a true game-changer) is to be seriously challenged, it just may be time to take these on as potential investments in 2018.


HBO Max, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and several more streaming services all offer a large variety of bundles, allowing the consumer to choose from dozens of movies or television shows – or both – from their respective catalogue and original content. In turn, such large amounts of choice might discourage overwhelming majority of viewer from choosing any streaming service at all.

In the battle for eyeballs, media companies have shelled out millions on programming and even created new platforms, all in a bid to carve out a niche in a bloated media industry. In 2022, nine of the world’s largest media and tech companies will spend a combined $140.5 billion on content production, according to an estimate from the financial services company Wells Fargo –2.1%WFC,

But now, Netflix is also learning to hike prices ahead of the competition to recoup money spent on originals and establish leverage for future strategy. Hulu, Disney+ and Peacock, for their part, continue to hike prices, ban password sharing among their subscribers, and add tiers of higher-value packages for those who opt for them.

Streaming Platforms

Streaming platforms are web-based media service providers that allow users to play or stream media in real time without downloading it, including music videos, movies, TV shows, games, live radio stations, and live shopping services. Streaming platforms come in many names, each with particular offerings. Some of them have many advantages and disadvantages.

Netflix may still be the 800lb gorilla of SVOD streaming, with more than 260 million subscribers worldwide, but in the US, other subscription streaming services, such as NBC’s Peacock, Disney’s ABC+/Hulu/Content Studios, all saw subscriber growth in recent months.

YouTube is another giant, but unlike TikTok it doesn’t generate its own content. Its success largely depends on consumers spending their hours glued on user-generated video, putting it at a huge disadvantage against competitors that shell out for scripted programming or sports rights – which is one of the biggest risks for traditional media firms.


Global streaming media consumption is on the rise. Viewing foreign-language films or shows can enhance understanding of cultural traditions and reflecting society’s socialy tales of distant nations; as illustrated by the records of two foreign productions that put the world in small screens in 2021 – French series Lupin and Korean thriller Parasite which were streamed to the global audience in the US platform, Hulu.

But Wall Street feared that streaming services like Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock, which began cropping up in 2021 and could grab subscribers from their rival, Netflix, would also siphon away an important revenue stream: licensing.

Class A ownership of streaming services is controlled by legacy media and entertainment companies, while tech companies are gaining influential positions in both classes B and C. As a consequence, contractual autonomy for producers erodes under the shadow of the connected streaming services owned by giants that upend other industries and segments, especially legacy Hollywood majors. Many of the most popular streaming platforms today have squeezed the profits of producers to a small margin, imposed a broken payment quarterly system, reassign global rights through automated auditing, and made it difficult to stop a movie release on their platforms once it’s live.

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