Netflix vs Disney: The War of Streaming is finally here!

By late 2019, Disney has promised to launch its own online streaming service, further complicating the options for viewers who just want to watch their favourite films and TV online. The competition between streaming services has been great for consumers, so far. Outlets like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Shudder, and Filmstruck have been ramping up content and giving us a lot for very little money, but they have the power to take it away too (password lockdowns, pull content). As corporate consolidation heats up, that deal may get a lot worse, and faster…

With a plethora of OTT streaming services coming into the market after the rise of Netflix, more & more companies that make video content are finding their way into the streaming media business. And the mightiest of them all, the company which is best known for its unique marketing strategies, is finally getting into the business too. At the mid of 2019, Disney will be launching its OTT streaming service, Disney+, that would provide Disney lovers with the best content one could possibly imagine. And yes fellas, that does include the famous MCU!

Right now, all the MCU movies, including some shows from the Marvel’s extended universe, are being streamed on Netflix. But they soon may leave you for their parent company, since Marvel is acquired by Disney. And if it’s onDisneyflix, it doesn’t really make much sense to put it on Netflix too. Perhaps you won’t be able to enjoy MCU movies on Netflix for so long. Although much of the Disney’s content is being streamed on Netflix, with the launch of Disney+, it has already been speculated that Disney soon may pull back it’s licenced content from the streaming giant, and provide it in form of a paid subscription on its own service.

Right now, a single Netflix subscription, which costs around ₹700/- in India, may fetch you all the MCU movies, along with some in-house productions & Netflix’s own original series, for which, obviously, Netflix is known for (Stranger Things, my fav!). But within a year or two, you might not have much of a choice, as you’d have to subscribe to at least 2-3 streaming services in order to watch a diverse variety of shows or movies or franchises that you’re a fan of. If you’re a fan of Netflix original content, but you also want to watch MCU, you will have to subscribe to both Netflix as well as Disney+, specifically.

Right now, a single Netflix subscription, which costs around ₹700/- in India, may fetch you all the MCU movies, along with some in-house productions & Netflix’s own original series, for which, obviously, Netflix is known for (Stranger Things, my fav!). But within a year or two, you might not have much of a choice, as you’d have to subscribe to at least 2-3 streaming services in order to watch a diverse variety of shows or movies or franchises that you’re a fan of. If you’re a fan of Netflix original content, but you also want to watch MCU, you will have to subscribe to both Netflix as well as Disney+, specifically.

The Game of Acquisitions. Apparently, Disney beat out Comcast for the acquisition of 21st Century Fox, including all its movies & shows, Fox-owned TV Networks (Nat Geo & FX) and a controlling stake at Hulu, for a whopping $71.3 billion bid. Disney is planning its own Netflix competitor for 2019, backed by content holdings like Marvel, Lucasfilm (the home for Star Wars!) and Pixar. Comcast already owns NBC and Illumination Studios (proud home of the Minions franchise). AT&T and Time Warner are in the process of merging. With the streaming service business becoming hot, everyone wants a piece, and they are ready to fight for it to the end.

The most interesting thing to note here is that AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which owns famous American sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S, is likely to leverage the show for its own streaming purpose, but since Netflix had already been streaming the show, AT&T decided to hike the prices, and so, has secured a deal with Netflix for $100 million, that extends Netflix’s exclusive streaming rights to the show through 2019.

One thing I like about Disney is it’s captivating marketing strategy. It uses nostalgia to establish and maintain customer loyalty. It strategically creates content, and if need be, keeps rebooting its original content from time to time, in order to keep its different target audiences engaged. Disney has its own dedicated & diverse fanbase, most of them being the 90s kids, the millennial generation! Be it it’s nostalgic shows like Hannah Montana, or it’s animated movies like The Lion King or their latest live-action counterparts, or it’s animated movies like Pixar’s Inside Out, Coco or Moana, Disney has managed to win its fans’ hearts over the years, with its heartwarming movies and light shows. So Disney may be late to the game, but the quality content that it has, speaks to the general audience emotionally, so it won’t really make any difference. 

A kind of streaming Cold War is on the brink, and it would be interesting to see how each streaming service lures its viewers to subscribe to their respective service, as each of them tries to leverage their own well-known franchises into a standalone subscription bundle.

However, it would be too soon to speculate what future holds for these streaming giants, and avid viewers like me. It could be good news for specific fandoms, who would get the privilege of zeroing in on all their favourite content, at minimal subscription plans. But for viewers like me, who watch anything and everything for the sake of entertainment, it’s going to be a tough challenge deciding which service to subscribe for at a minimal cost. So enjoy it while it lasts, because wheels are already in motion to make these services more profitable for companies, and probably, worse for you.

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