Sep 13, 2019

The streaming battlefield is getting crowded

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the streaming wars heat up, consumers are going to have to be choosy about which services they subscribe to, or risk racking up steep monthly bills.

Why it matters: Digital streaming was supposed to break up the expensive cable bundle, but now that so many companies are launching their own services, paying for TV could get even more expensive and complicated.

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Table: Axios Visuals

Driving the news: Apple announced Tuesday that it would charge just $4.99 a month for its new streaming service, Apple TV+.

  • Its rivals, Netflix and Disney+, both price their services higher, at $8.99 and $6.99 monthly, respectively, for the cheapest packages.
  • But both services offer far more programming than Apple, including original shows and movies as well as older "catalog" content, including popular series with hundreds of episodes.
  • For Apple, streaming is less a core business than part of a larger strategy of holding on to customers. The same holds for Amazon's Prime Video service.

Be smart: According to Mike Bloxham, SVP of global media and entertainment at research consultancy Magid, people are willing to spend around $38 monthly total on streaming services.

  • That means that they will likely chose between 3-4 services to invest in monthly.

Yes, but: Unlike cable contracts, most streaming services allow users to share passwords, or cancel at any time. Because of this, streaming services need to worry about how to retain customers, not just accrue them.

Our thought bubble: The key differentiator for all of these new streaming offerings will be whether the packages are "sticky" enough to keep users coming back after they finish their favorite show or original series. For companies like Apple, even with a low pricing advantage, smaller content libraries will make it harder to attract and retain subscribers.

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A streaming month to remember

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

April 2020 will be a decisive moment for the future of television. Jeffrey Katzenberg's short-form video app Quibi, NBC's streaming service Peacock, and AT&T's streaming service HBO Max are all slated to launch within weeks of one another that month.

Why it matters: The threat of competition from these services is already starting to shake investor confidence in Netflix, which has been the dominant player in the streaming field for years. The company's stock hit its lowest point this year on Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowSep 28, 2019

Streamers go to war over marketing

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The battle among streaming companies is getting competitive, as rivals block competitors from marketing on their TV channels or distributing content on their apps.

Why it matters: TV networks, hardware companies and telecom giants control access to some of the biggest audiences for new products, but they want to use that reach to benefit their own streaming offerings and stymie the competition.

Go deeperArrowOct 7, 2019

New streamers battle over old shows

Photo by George Lange/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Streaming services are putting up billions of dollars to win the rights to TV classics like "Friends" and "Seinfeld," both of which debuted over 2 decades ago on broadcast.

Why it matters: Many of these classic shows had previously been made available on other streaming services, but they're now being scooped up — and often for a lot more cash — by rivals that think they're necessary to compete for users.

Go deeperArrowSep 23, 2019