Is there a more overused term lately in the tech world than streaming wars? There might be, but since the launch of Disney Plus I can’t read anything about our little corner of the entertainment world without bumping into a column stating that the “Streaming Wars” are heating up. If you are new to the idea the streaming wars refers to what most people would just call competition. IN the past we have had the Cola wars Coke VS Pepsi, and the burger wars McDonald’s vs Everyone else. Its a way of talking about competition that makes it sound like there are life and death stakes. But it’s patently ridiculous. Especially in the context of Netflix and like McDonald’s Everyone else.
The reason the term is so silly is that for the most part, the competition for Netflix is not really competition at all. Apple TV + has affected Netflix about as much as a gnat on a windshield affects a Mack truck. Apple TV +, for all the hype around its star-studded announcement, has barely made the slightest blip in the industry. None of the shows so far has captured the attention of the general public aside from See. And really that’s just an extension of the interest in every woman’s current hall pass. The show itself has not been received well by critics or regular viewers.
When people refer to the streaming wars we also here about the upcoming (still a year away) Peacock. Peacock is a still undefined service from Comcast that will feature NBC based content. It will apparently be the exclusive home of The Office once its contract with Netflix runs out. But how do people get it? Well, some will have it automatically via being customers of Comcast. Comcast had said in the past that every pay-TV customer would have access to the service. But That is based on individual providers buying into the service. Think ESPN3 in the early days. There is this funny idea in the industry that one show makes a service. This is because Tent poles like Game of Thrones or Stranger Things can become synonymous with a given service or channel. But it misses the fact that the shows became popular and household names because the services were already everywhere. If Stranger Things were to have debuted on Vimeo, do you think 50 million people would know what it is? Nope. But the short-sided click bait artists of the world don’t seem to remember that Netflix is a hitmaker, not a service that overpays for hits.
Yeah the Office has been huge for Netflix. It has a cult following including people who have discovered it for the first time long after it was a hit for NBC. Friends has had a rejuvenation as well. But people miss the point. Netflix made a show that ended in 2004 a hit with people who were 3 years old when it went off the air. Its not as if the entire country was having a fit to binge Ross and Rachel beforehand. Netflix just rolled it out there and boom now you see 13-year-olds wearing Friends shirts. There is some miss understanding where people think these few shows made Netflix. Its the other way around. What will be the big thing when Friends and The Office no longer live on Netflix. I don’t know. But it will. The people who watch those shows are not going to abandon the service and sign up for Peacock. They are not going to abandon it and sign up for HBO Max.
The only new entry in the streaming world to pay attention to is Disney Plus. It’s appealing to kids and boomers with its mix of nostalgia and new animated classics. But even the biggest new service launch ever has gone quiet since the announcement of 10 million subs in the first 24-hours. If it had picked up 20 million more don’t you think Disney would be letting everyone know? And even more, with the big rollout, Netflix is holding steady in the stock market and subscriber numbers continue to grow.
So let’s cut out the doom and gloom high stakes headlines. They are nonsense until there is true evidence. If there is a war it looks like it was over before it started.