The streaming battles reached new heights of competitive fervor in 2020, with additional services—most notably, HBO Max and Peacock—increasing the pressure on players to demonstrate their uniqueness to customers overwhelmed by a dizzying array of options. Over the course of the year, surprise hits in the form of an eccentric tiger trainer, an enigmatic chess champion, and an irrepressibly optimistic (but completely inept) soccer coach arrived, as did surprise theatre screenings of films such as Hamilton and the Borat sequel.
Indeed, viewers benefited significantly from Hollywood’s growing reliance on streamers to debut films (see item 7) during COVID-19, when theatres closed across the globe, a trend that is expected to continue even after the epidemic is over.
Here are the streaming services Participating in this race
1. NETFLIX: A Leader of Online Streaming Service
Netflix remains the eccentric, wealthy uncle who shows up for dinner dressed extravagantly but not necessarily in matching outfits, with crazy tales of global travel and generous gifts spilling from his pockets. While he may make you roll your eyes, there is no way you will refuse to invite him around. The already-dominant streamer gained even more clout in 2020, owing to the epidemic and a global audience with ample time to Netflix and chill. This surge in consumption resulted in an all-time high of 16 million new subscribers in the first quarter. However, growth moderated later in the year. Despite this, the corporation has amassed 195 million members, making it the industry leader by a wide margin. Its throw-everything-at-the-wall approach to content is beginning to show cracks: critically acclaimed films like Glen Keane’s animated feature Over the Moon have come and gone, as have so many other titles and Netflix’s lucrative deals with showrunners like Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes have yet to pay off. This year’s Murphy offerings (Hollywood, The Politician) were duds, while Rhimes took three years to present her first executive produced (not created) show, Bridgerton, which premiered on Christmas. However, demonstrating that it still can draw aces, shows like Tiger King and The Queens Gambit appeared out of nowhere and dominated the water-cooler conversation for weeks. And, as movie theatres were forced to close owing to the pandemic, films like Extraction and The Old Guard stepped in to fill the hole. Start today with Netflix just by visiting Netflix login and enjoying the universe of great movies, tv shows, and much more.
2. DISNEY PLUS: An Ultimate Streaming Service
In 2020, only one streamer will have proven that it can compete with Netflix—and that is Disney Plus. Its laser-like concentration on branding and growing its library of A-list, family-friendly brands—Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and Nat Geo, among others—aided the service in reaching 87 million users in just 13 months. The Mandalorian, a Star Wars spinoff that served as the flagship series when Disney Plus began, demonstrated that a show without big-name actors and a modest production budget could nonetheless win over fans and keep them engaged for the entire year of the show’s run. To be sure, it took Disney Plus eight months to land its next major blockbuster, the movie adaptation of Hamilton, which Disney chose to stream rather than release in theatres in 2021 and which quickly became the summer’s biggest cinematic event. However, it concluded the year with the release of Pixar’s first streaming film, Soul, and the promise of an onslaught of content in 2021 and beyond. Eighty percent of the 105 new titles spun out or given a prequel from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, and classic Disney properties such as Three Men and a Baby and Turner and Hooch will launch on Disney Plus.
Hulu has further strengthened its position in the streaming industry with Disney ownership with a well-established brand and a robust library of new and old content—including buzzy series like A Handmaid’s Tale and Little Fires Everywhere. In 2020, it will become the streaming home for FX, which recently released A Teacher on the service and is gearing up to develop 30 new original films per year. In 2022, Fox Searchlight titles will begin to arrive on the platform. (In essence, Hulu will soon be Disney’s adult-oriented streaming channel in the United States.) Hulu’s combination of a huge catalog of comfort viewing, live TV, and surprises, such as the Andy Samberg feature Palm Springs—which Hulu claims generated more hours watched in its first three days in July than any other film on the service—makes it a must-have title on every TV screen. By 2020, the service will have grown to 36 million subscribers.
4. HBO MAX
HBO Max (HBO Max/tv sign in) got off to a rocky start with unclear marketing—no one understood the distinction between HBO, HBO Now, and HBO Max—and a prohibitively high monthly price of $14.99. Additionally, it lacked critical distribution partnerships with Amazon and Roku. However, toward the year’s close (better late than never), WarnerMedia made bold—and highly contentious—moves to accelerate its expansion and the stock of AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia. Wonder Woman 1984, which cost $200 million, was redirected to the platform and launched on Christmas Day; it was also released in theatres. More significantly, WarnerMedia has shifted all 17 of Warner Bros.’s 2021 films to HBO Max, where they will have the same hybrid streaming-theatrical distribution as Dune and Matrix 4. The action spurred a new agreement with Roku less than a month after an agreement with Amazon was signed. HBO Max established a foothold even without corporate manipulation, with episodes like The Flight Attendant and The Undoing, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant. As a result, the streamer attracted four million new users in the year’s final three months, bringing its total activations to 12.6 million.
5. AMAZON PRIME
As Amazon Prime users’ latest free video add-on, the streamer has grown to an estimated 150 million subscribers with ease. Amazon has still to determine its unique programming strategy, moving away from the arthouse lane that defined it initially and into more mainstream territory with this year’s thriller anthology series Welcome to the Blumhouse and the release of Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which benefited from savvy marketing and timing (it was released days before the election) to become a buzzy cultural event—the streaming world’s equivalent of a blockbuster opening weekend. Amazon has made waves with the dark superhero series The Boys and Steve McQueen’s Small Axe. While the company undoubtedly possesses the resources necessary to exceed Netflix, it will need to ramp up its content production and invest more consistently in big-name attractions. Coming to America 2, which it acquired from Paramount, will assist.
As a latecomer to the streaming wars, NBCU’s free, ad-supported service (premium tiers without commercials) encountered early setbacks upon introduction in July. The Olympics were canceled due to COVID-19, depriving the platform of a powerful marketing tool, and a number of its original planned series were postponed as a result of the epidemic. On the other hand, Peacock grew swiftly and scaled to 26 million subscribers by early December, owing to its massive library—20,000-plus hours—of recognized network TV episodes and films at a time when fans desired familiarity.
A stumbling block is that it is not now available on Amazon Fire TV, but that will change in 2021 with the release of The Office and related material in January. Netflix is now copying its “Live Channels” feature, which plays material live without the ability to fast-forward or scroll back similar to how traditional television works.
6. APPLE TV PLUS
Apple TV Plus debuted in late 2019 with a slate of sparkling, A-list original series from Jennifer Aniston and Jason Momoa. When most of its early releases failed to resonate, the boom became more of a pop—though series like The Morning Show matured and garnered Emmy nominations (and one win). The streamer gained pace in the new year, delivering unexpected titles like the addictively amusing Ted Lasso and the Israeli drama Tehran. Additionally, the firm solidified its feature-picture approach this summer, when it acquired Tom Hanks’ Greyhound from Sony and transformed it into an event film for the service. Apple declined to disclose figures, but it was the streamer’s greatest debut weekend to date and was comparable to a summer box-office smash. The streamer’s inexpensive price model—$5.99 per month—and strong pockets aim to overtake Netflix, which now has a projected 35 million customers. Additionally, its preference for prestige programming, proclivity for talent relationships (it recently launched a Bruce Springsteen documentary), and partnerships with reputable brands such as A24 suggest that it could easily fill the void left by HBO as HBO Max transforms into an all-but-the-kitchen-sink collection of movies and TV shows.