TV and movie audiences were already turning to online streaming in large numbers before COVID-19, but the global pandemic cemented the popularity of at-home viewing in the early 2020s. Today, media giants are in hot competition in the streaming sector, leaving experts wondering if a clear leader will ultimately arise.
Let’s examine some of the top contenders.
The first company to take at-home streaming video mainstream, Netflix dominated the market until relatively recently. In terms of both the quantity and the quality of its entertainment content, it remains a monumental force in the streaming industry. Even after losing more than 200,000 subscribers in early 2022, Netflix remains the top streaming service in terms of market share.
Witnessing Netflix’s unprecedented success, other companies have rushed to replicate it. However, none of these companies, as yet, has been able to definitively knock Netflix off of its throne. A recent appraisal by the market-watching organization Financhill determined that “though industry experts started to speculate about the future of Netflix, most agreed that the streaming giant wouldn’t lose market share.”
For many years, Hulu was the only streaming service to come close to Netflix’s massive market share. However, consumers tended to add a Hulu subscription to their existing Netflix subscription rather than abandoning Netflix for Hulu. This trend has made it impossible for Hulu to pull in front of Netflix to become the market leader.
In 2022, there is some indication that Hulu might be gaining some new momentum. Between 2021 and 2022, Hulu’s Emmy nomination count more than doubled. Among its 58 Emmy nods. There were many for its critically acclaimed programs Dopesick and The Dropout, which took home Best Lead Actor and Best Lead Actress wins, respectively, for their star performers Michael Keaton and Amanda Seyfried.
HBO Max and Apple TV+
Many experts view industry awards and recognition as key factors in the streaming wars. In light of this, one must also carefully consider HBO Max and Apple TV+ as possible contenders. According to The Seattle Times, HBO Max is riding a “wave of winning momentum” in the wake of the 2022 Emmys.
“If the Emmy Awards are the yardstick for quality television content,” writes Times contributor Alison Saldanha, “the HBO empire has left its biggest competitor, Netflix, in the dust this year.” With 140 Emmy nominations, HBO Max scored the considerably more than any other streaming service this year including multiple wins in major categories.
Considering its relatively light roster of streaming content, Apple TV+ also did extremely well with 51 Emmy nominations. Its original TV programming, such as Ted Lasso, Severance, and The Morning Show has been critically celebrated for several years now. Ted Lasso received the second most wins for any show (4) in 2022 after securing a record-breaking 20 nominations in 2021.
When Disney+ burst onto the scene in 2019, many industry experts deemed it the first serious challenger to Netflix. The Walt Disney Company not only owned some of the most valuable entertainment properties in world history, but it had the resources and skill needed to create a state-of-the-art platform.
Although Emmy nominations for Disney+ have never been particularly widespread and Netflix still brings in more corporate income, no one can doubt the powerful position that Disney+ holds in the streaming market. In her November 2022 article “Disney Overtakes Netflix, Again. Who Will Win the Streaming Wars?” Motley Fool contributor Jenifer Saibil explains that Disney+ is gaining on Netflix pretty fast in terms of subscriber count. If this trend continues, Disney+ will soon overtake Netflix as the top-grossing streaming service.
Amazon are a powerful technology company with a huge presence in several spheres already, something they are utilizing to add value to their streaming offer – as a Prime subscriber, you can get unlimited free deliveries from Amazon and often other benefits, such as access to Amazon music. This will make Amazon difficult to dislodge from the market, but it hasn’t so far translated into market dominance. While Amazon Prime has impressed many with its high quality shows, it has so far failed to deliver the extraordinarily popular must-watch shows – think Squid Game and Game of Thrones – that have driven viewers to other streaming services, nor do they possess intellectual property goldmines such as Star Wars. As long as Amazon’s online stores remain popular, their streaming service will have a significant presence – but their formula will need a significant tweak before they can take the next step.