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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Everyone wants a piece of the $19 billion U.S. subscription video market that Netflix created, then cornered.

The big picture: Netflix has already reached saturation in the U.S. with nearly 60 million domestic subscribers, and it can't afford to lose customers to new streaming rivals.

  • NBC plans to launch a streaming service next year.
  • AT&T (with WarnerMedia) and Disney (with 21st Century Fox) both plan to launch similar subscription video services this year.
  • Hulu now has more subscribers (25 million) than Comcast, the biggest cable company in the U.S.
  • And don't forget Amazon Prime, which has been the biggest Netflix competitor to date.

Between the lines: Many of the networks involved in rival services have begun pulling back on licensing their content to Netflix, promoting exclusivity to their own content instead.

  • This is why AT&T said last year that it will only license "Friends" to Netflix for a year before it can decide whether it wants to launch it exclusively on its own services.

It's also why Netflix is pouring billions into creating more of its own original content series for TV:

  • The new hit "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo"
  • Hyper-localized content series like "Sacred Games" in India
  • Movies like the viral sensation "Bird Box"

Yes, but: Netflix may have an even bigger headache to deal with: free competition.

  • Digital streaming TV companies that don't charge people for access are rising as consumers face saturated budgets for subscription content.
  • Services with ad-supported channels or tiers, like Roku and Hulu, are booming.
  • And pay-TV companies like AT&T, Dish and now Comcast (which owns NBCUniversal) are giving subscribers access to new streaming video services for free.

What's next: The company reports earnings for Q4 tomorrow. Analysts seem bullish that Netflix will announce record subscriber growth.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1pm the day after the article is transmitted.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.