The last few weeks, I’ve seen several articles popping up about how Netflix is in trouble. Nobody’s saying that about Amazon because their streaming entertainment service is tiny compared to the rest of their business, but Netflix is a one-trick pony. If they can’t dominate the streaming game, they can’t themselves by selling more Folgers.
Neither service is facing the doom and gloom that everyone seems to think for them just because Disney, NBC Universal, and pretty much everyone else is launching their own services in 2019. Let’s start with the two biggest reasons everyone is concerned, then we’ll tackle the reason they’re going to be just fine.
The first reason on the tip of everyone’s tongue is the obvious one. People are only going to subscribe to a limited amount of services. Whether that’s one, three, or whatever, only a small percentage of avid entertainment fans with enough money to spare will actually subscribe to most or all of the services, at least by conventional wisdom.
In that conventional wisdom is also the 800-lb Disney in the room. They have Star Wars, Marvel, and all the kids’ programming. They’re surely going to dominate, right?
Maybe, but here’s the thing. They won’t have the type of programming that current subscribers to Amazon and Netflix have. By their alleged nature, Disney will need their service to be family-friendly. Amazon and especially Netflix are more aligned with the mature audiences. Will many subscribe to Disney+? Yes. Will they do so at the expense of Netflix and/or Amazon? Probably not as many as most people think.
Moreover, all of these services are going to be hopping into package deals with cable providers. Since the cord-cutters haven’t taken over the entertainment world as many predicted a decade ago, we’re still going to need good entertainment on cable. This entertainment is already manifesting in expansion for both Amazon and Netflix, not deflation.
The second reason people are worried that Netflix and Amazon might be in trouble is the loss of programming. As more services go in-house with their own streaming platforms, it behooves them to not allow that content on other services. This is a viable concern, but it’s also not going to do as much damage as many people believe. Anecdotally, we hear about people willing to cancel their services if they ever lose [insert popular show]. This is a bluff. If The Office disappears on Netflix, there won’t be a mass exodus. If a dozen shows disappear, it’s still not going to do much damage. If Disney pulls everything they own (which they likely will), it’s not going to make people leave Netflix or Amazon because they can’t stream Episode 9 when it’s released.
They’ll deal with it. They’ll find other ways to stream these. They’ll add services or go a different route. Heck, they might even just go watch it at the theater. What they won’t do is leave with enough other avid fans to make a real dent in the subscription bases for Amazon and Netflix.
The reason neither of these concerns aren’t really very concerning is because both Netflix and Amazon have been preparing for this. They knew the exclusive ride they’ve been on for a while won’t last, so they’ve been doing the one thing they absolutely needed to do. They’re creating. They’re partnering. They’re becoming the way for people to see shows they otherwise couldn’t see.
Amazon, for example, took over The Expanse when it was cancelled by SyFy. This is arguably the best science fiction show ever (sorry BSG, Star Trek, and Stargate fans). Amazon stepped up and made the commitment to keep it going. Now fans have made the commitment to stick with Amazon.
Netflix is doing even more with their original programming. Despite the House of Cards debacle caused by their former lead actor, the original series and movies have been flowing nicely from the platform. I didn’t notice it until I started looking back at past reviews, but 10 of the 12 shows I called the most binge-worthy recently are on either Amazon or Netflix. I spend more time on Contour than streaming. Most shows I watch are on HBO, Starz, and other cable-bound networks. Yet, the ones I consider most binge-worthy are mostly on the two streaming giants.
That was not by design, but it’s a testament to what they’ve been able to accomplish.
Most people aren’t going to leave Netflix for Disney+ just so they can see a new Star Wars series. They might ADD Disney+, but few will abandon the quality programming available only on Netflix or Amazon. That’s my prediction.