Jan 25, 2024 - Business

How Netflix won the streaming wars

Netflix with muscles

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Netflix's very good week — strong earnings, rising stock and a blockbuster deal with the WWE — cemented its victory in the streaming wars.

The big picture: Netflix's combination of original content and reruns has been the backbone of its success so far, and now it's positioning itself aggressively for a new phase that relies more heavily on live broadcasts.

  • Every streamer has some destination viewing: Max had "Succession"; Disney+ has Marvel and Star Wars; Netflix has "The Crown."

But unlike many of its competitors, Netflix also has continued to spend big on a library of licensed content — giving subscribers a reason not to cancel even when there's no new season of their favorite original show.

  • Netflix subscribers watched 800 million hours last year of the original show "The Night Agent." They also watched 600 million hours of "Suits," a USA Network drama that premiered during the Obama administration.
  • "Netflix has the reputation of being a service for browsers — the place to go when you don't necessarily know what you want to watch," The Ringer wrote recently.

What's next: Live sports — mainly football — is still the biggest thing that happens on any screen, and some of Netflix's competitors, mainly Amazon, have made more aggressive moves to claim a piece of that action.

  • But Netflix got closer this week with its blockbuster deal to stream WWE's "Raw" — a way to cement livestreaming as a core feature of the platform with a property that's at least adjacent to real sports.
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