Streaming wars amp up, as Netflix and key players turn to global sights
As if competition wasn’t enough, the battle among streaming services to continue growing is an ever evolving subject. As the key players, Netflix, YouTube, Apple Music and countless others are looking to grow internationally in order to increase and retain the eyeballs they attract; all the while new players, such as IFFR Unleashed, are coming into the streaming fold before it’s too late.
Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) remains the go-to provider for most cord-cutters, boasting approximately 24 million in new streaming subscriptions in 2017 alone. After releasing its fourth quarter earnings, the Los Gatos, California-based streaming network is counting on original content production to push the business cross-border full steam ahead. “When a good story is told well, it is a global product,” says Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer.
Just before the start of 2018 and after purchasing coming book publisher Millarworld, Netflix premiered its fantasy action-esque film “Bright” starring Will Smith. The feature film is already Netflix’s largest investment in original films to date and has landed well among consumers, despite film critics’ overwhelming disdain for the movie. Bright, along with other original script acquisitions like season two of the television hit series “Stranger Things,” have added to the network’s growing membership globally.
In 2016, Netflix knew that no matter what movies it had on its streaming network subscribers only spent a third of their time watching films. Today, the company strongly believes that the “big investments in content are paying off.” In the quest to continue expanding abroad, Netflix has engaged in a number of deals with multi-channel video programming distributors and internet service providers. Apple Music, Hulu, Disney with its forthcoming streaming network scheduled to debut in 2019, and the other major streaming platforms now know that original content is the key for success abroad.
The media industry over the past decade has seen the transition from linear television to digital and streaming. Competition from ad-supported video networks and commercial-free premium content has expanded the market tremendously, and is capable of supporting multiple successful streaming services. The market expansion has created a lane for new players to enter, and may result in more acquisitions for legacy streaming networks to bulk up as Lionsgate and other media assets are potentially up for sale.
For newcomers, like IFFR Unleashed, just getting started is a step in the right direction. In January 2018, the Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR) unveiled its art house streaming service, taking on the style of Netflix. The standard video on-demand streaming service had a soft launch last year and is now available to users worldwide for $75 a month. The platform is dubbed as filmmaker friendly and will also feature original interviews with film professionals and provide access to the film festival’s master classes. All in all, streaming networks are here to stay and expect more M&A as the key players look to expand globally.