In global media landscape gone streaming, survival of the fittest among subscription video platforms is an ongoing battle spearheaded by four likely winners: Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video — and Apple TV+?
That’s the mindset of Bob Iger, recently retired former Disney CEO and executive chairman, who gave his two-cents worth Sept. 7 as a featured speaker at the 2022 Code Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Iger, who helped launch the Disney+ SVOD platform in late 2019 after realizing Disney had helped make streaming pioneer Netflix a household mainstay, said the current rush to market much of the company’s brands through the branded streaming platform is a winning strategy due in large part to the company strong intellectual property rights.
“I believe that Netflix is going to continue to thrive. They have some issues now, but they’re not going away,” Iger said, adding that he believes both Netflix and Disney+ would prosper further following separate launches of less expensive ad-supported streaming subscription tiers. He stressed that both Amazon and Apple would also emerge winners in the SVOD market due to both companies’ reduced dependence upon streaming video.
Prime Video, which is nearly as old as Netflix, is largely offered as a free add-on feature to Prime members primarily interested in Amazon’s stranglehold on e-commerce and free two-day shipping. Apple, which includes free streaming access to the Apple TV+ platform (launched two weeks ahead of Disney+) with every Apple consumer electronics sale, continues to generate billions in revenue and profit as a CE manufacturer.
Indeed, Apple has never disclosed subscriber data for its branded SVOD service, which continues to ramp up content spending and industry awards, including a Best Picture Oscar for CODA.
“They’re not primary businesses for them and they’re measured, probably, by different standards in terms of bottom line, and they serve other purposes in those companies,” Iger said about both Prime Video and Apple TV+. “They’re going to continue to grow, and they’ll grow well. They’ve got deep pockets. They’ve got great access to consumers. They have strong technology platforms. They’ve proven they know how to do it. So, they stay.”
Iger made no mention of other streaming rivals, including NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Paramount+ or the pending melding of HBO Max with Discovery+.
While Peacock continues to struggle generating paying subscribers, Paramount+ enjoyed the strongest subscriber growth in the most recent fiscal period among any service. Warner Bros. Discovery combines HBO pay-TV subs with HBO Max streaming (and soon Discovery+) to showcase a larger streaming footprint. The parent company continues to scale back Max content spending and licensing in an effort to realize mandated $3 billion in post-WarnerMedia/Discovery merger cost synergies
“They’ve got some tough hands, and it takes a lot of capital to be in that business,” Iger said of the competition. “I don’t think they’ll all make it.”