Roberto CoelhoBy Roberto Coelho|May 31, 2021|8 Minutes|In Opinion


The name is Bezos, Jeff Bezos.

As Netflix loses ground, Disney and Amazon rally the troops into battle for the eyes and ears of humanity.

The British secret service will be disappointed to lose James Bond from the oversight of suave spymaster M to a new boss from across the pond JB – Jeff Bezos.

The Bezos – Bond dream team became official when Amazon announced it is set to purchase the studio, MGM. Adding Bond to the team may be Amazon’s solution to The Streaming Wars. The goal is to use Bond’s appeal together with others, like Rocky, to challenge the streaming behemoth, Netflix.

The battlefield, separated by App icons, include those two contenders with, Disney’s Disney Plus, Apple’s Apple Plus, Comcast’s Peacock and At&t HBO Max (Warner Media), and few others. Warner Media dropped a bombshell as they announced a merger with Discovery.

With many moving parts and acquisitions happening on a day-to-day basis the war is difficult to follow. Let us delve into the battle to deduce whom could win the streaming war.

To fully understand the position of global entertainment it is important to discuss how this war began.

If we cast our minds back to 2008, the Olympics was taking place in Beijing, but movie lovers were focused on the release of the second instalment in the Batman series:  The Dark Knight. There were three ways to watch it outside movie theatres: expensive cable, frustrating Blockbuster, or illegal piracy.

Netflix capitalized on the human desire for cheap movies, in a simple way, to disrupt this space and direct eyeballs towards the Dark Knight.

In the ascendency is Netflix. The reason is quite simple: the price is reasonable; the original connect is rated the best, according to a Morgan Stanley survey, and they have more than 200 million global subscribers that’s nearly three times the population of southern Africa.

Nevertheless, the first-mover advantage may be waning. Disney Plus boasts an impressive 100 million subscribers just 17 months after launch. This unprecedented growth has resulted in Disney Plus’s launch being regarded as “one of the greatest product launches of all time” as they outpace their competitors; after all, the goal was to reach 90 million subscribers 5 years after launch.

Amazon’s Prime subscribers stand at over 200 million however the benefit for Amazon is their subscribers are not solely paying for the media, also the retail. Meaning, when the pennies are tight, customers are likely to cancel another media house rather than Amazon Prime. Apple Plus holds 40 million subscribers, HBO Max 60 million, and Peacock 40 million.

These figures are backward looking and do not tell the future. The winner will be determined by two separate, yet important topics – price and quality.

Prices vary from as little as $4.99 for Apple Plus to $14.99 for HBO Max. Considering the average house spends 47$ on streaming, there supposedly can be three winners. Thus, the determining factor comes down to quality.

Quality is divided into two ranks, Bingablity, and Pure Hits. Bingablity, as one may have guessed, refers to how late you stay up watching just one more episode. We have all experienced it; the inability to switch off the TV, or close the iPad.

Without a doubt, Netflix is the current champion. Series such as The Crown, The Queens Gambit, and Bridgeton keep people glued.

Pure Hits are more difficult to come by and are created intergenerationally. Thus, Disney takes the cake, together with the original content they possess Malvern, Lucas Film, Pixar, and numerous others. HBO follows on from Disney. After this Netflix and Amazon who, by acquisition. are trying to reach the same film library as Disney and HBO.

Netflix is aware of this trend and intends to flank their competition with a budget of $17 billion for this year alone. Discovery and HBO’s merger would create a budget of $20 billion. Further down the pile are Disney, Apple, and Peacock.

Amazon’s budget blows their competitors out of the water with $11 billion set aside for content for the year; $9 Billion for MGM, and $10 billion to lease NFL Thursday Night Live.

Unfortunately, these media giants are in a battle for the eyes and ears of every human being on this planet. Thus, there are other competitors, Google and Facebook, who have a built-in advantage.

When was the last time you watched a series without scrolling Instagram? Or, when the show becomes a little boring, didn’t YouTube seem more entertaining? The easiness of these platforms is not their only advantage.

Their true advantage is the ability to compete with a budget of zero dollars for content. We scroll Instagram, not because Instagram spends billions to create content, instead because we are inherently interested in the lives of our friends, enemies, and lovers who create the content for free. The fact that Facebook and Google do not need to pay for connecting allows them to fight this war without a large fortune thrown at it.

Yet our discussion is on the true Streaming Services, hence the best a streaming service can do is use this social effect to their advantage and create a true viral brand around their content. As Disney did with the Mandalorian or Netflix with Bridgeton. If every teenager needs to watch something to be “cool” there is no doubt one streaming service will be chosen over another.

As an army of highly paid actors fight it out in the trenches, visions of a victor emerge.

The first outcome maybe everyone wins and hence no one wins. To elaborate, as Amazon has bought MGM, as Disney has bought The History Channel and ESPN and as Discovery merges with HBO the possible inevitability is continuous mergers until we end where we started, paying $50 or more for a range of streaming services – or, as my grandparents would call it, “channels”.

Alternatively, there are three winners, as shown households will pay for 3 streaming services. If this is the case the first-place winner will be Amazon, second place will be Disney, and third place will be Netflix.

Picture Accreditation Seattle City Council from Seattle, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons