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The streaming wars could finally end in 2021

If the Covid-19 The 2020 lockdowns have proven everything beyond the importance of masks and social distancing in slowing a pandemic. It’s just how much people appreciate their streaming services when most other forms of entertainment – theaters, concert halls, museums – are closed. Netflix, Disney +, Amazon Prime and Apple TV + have won millions of new subscribers. In the worst of times, it was the best time – to stream. Now that all of these services are looking towards the new year, they need to figure out how to keep all of these new viewers close.

Last Thursday, Disney put in place an ambitious plan to do just that. (Mind you, the company didn’t call it “Keeping You Locked In Disney + Agenda” – it was the Investor Day 2020 presentation – but it might as well have been.) Instead of delving deeply into all of the feature films that featured The Mouse House Working for 2021, the big Disney wigs focused heavily on any new offerings for their streaming service, including about 22 Marvel and Star Wars projects that will land there starting next year. The multibillion dollar plan, which Variety intelligently describes as “part dazzling, part flexible,” is part of the company’s effort to reach more than 230 million subscribers by the end of fiscal 2024. (The service currently has 86 million subs.) For perspective, that target is about 30 million more than the 195 million users Netflix currently has.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. announced on December 3 that it would be releasing its entire cinema board for 2021 on HBO Max while the films, which include Dune and Matrix 4, hit theaters. The streaming service has a comparatively small 12 million subscribers and has been slow to add new ones. The move could attract some new users.

Maybe. The problem with all this growth is that streaming services ultimately have few households left to subscribe to. This year, video-on-demand services have seen more growth than ever before in their history, says Maria Rua Aguete, an industry-following analyst at technology research firm Omdia, and right now the game is: who’s the number? A streaming service in the world? Who can get more subscribers? But in 2021 the industry saw a massive slowdown. Everyone will have tried everything and pretty much decided which to stick to. Hence the effort to lay claim to every screen a streaming service can get – and keep it.

“The four fastest growing services of 2020 were Netflix, Apple TV +, Disney + and Amazon Prime,” Aguete wrote in a recent report. “All saw significant net gains due to the markets affected by Covid. For all of these services, a significant decrease in net additions is expected in 2021. For Netflix and Amazon, 2021 will be the absolute absolute growth year since 2015. “

But streaming services also need to attract and retain audiences without alienating everyone else. When Warner Bros. made its announcement, everyone from the CEO of the AMC theater chain to WB’s own filmmakers was angry and amazed. Dune director Denis Villeneuve accused Warner Bros. parent company AT&T of hijacking “one of the most respected and important studios in film history”. Streaming, he warned, couldn’t keep the movie industry as we know it going, and the move to put big tent poles like Dune out on HBO Max could have lasting effects on theaters, he says – ones that go beyond 2021 and theater Closures could be due to Covid-19.

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Disney took a slight advantage in that regard last week. While it heralded a massive influx of new shows like Loki and Mandalorian spin-offs Ahsoka and Rangers of the New Republic for Disney +, it didn’t say much about plans to have its films streamed the same day they hit theaters to publish. Disney was at the top a few months ago, releasing Mulan on Disney + for a $ 30 fee, but it seems like that was a one-time deal.