how far will the platform wars go?

VSera change for the streaming giants. They kept on growing in popularity in the 2010s, led by Netflix. This rise accelerated with the pandemic and its long months of confinement, until the changeover in 2021: for the first time, according to an NPA Conseil/Harris Interactive barometer, the number of French households subscribing to at least one platform exceeded the half of the population.

The number of French households subscribing to at least one platform has exceeded half of the population

The offers have multiplied: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney…

VSera change for the streaming giants. They kept on growing in popularity in the 2010s, led by Netflix. This rise accelerated with the pandemic and its long months of confinement, until the changeover in 2021: for the first time, according to an NPA Conseil/Harris Interactive barometer, the number of French households subscribing to at least one platform exceeded the half of the population.

The number of French households subscribing to at least one platform has exceeded half of the population

The offers have multiplied: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney +, Apple +, myCanal, OCS, Salto… The race for subscribers is fiercer than ever. The content war, with exclusive productions, is declared.

The challenge for these companies is no longer just to win customers, but also to retain their loyal followers: video on demand enthusiasts have easy unsubscription. According to a study by the Antenna firm revealed this summer by the “Wall Street Journal”, 19% of platform subscribers have terminated at least three subscriptions over the past two years.

1 Netflix, the disrupted pioneer

For the first time, after years of dizzying growth, the Reed Hastings company lost just over a million subscribers in the first half of 2022. An alert for the precursor of streaming which, however, with 223 million followers worldwide (more than 10 million in France), remains the leader. Mishap or inexorable leveling off? The group has again, this summer, won two million subscribers, and made two strategic shifts. On the one hand by launching, from this month of November, in twelve countries including France, a cheaper subscription (€5.99 per month against €8.99 to €17.99 for the other three packages) but with advertising four to five minutes per hour. On the other hand, by reframing the sharing of passwords: from 2023, access to an account by an out-of-home person will be charged, we are talking about three euros per month.

Anxious to move upmarket, Netflix had distinguished itself before the Covid by recruiting seasoned filmmakers from all directions, and, it was said, without looking at the expense (Scorsese, Fincher, Campion, Cuarón, Sorrentino, etc.). Lavish period a priori over: the platform wants to remain an essential studio (four of its productions, including “Blonde”, were shown at the Venice Film Festival in September), but “rationalize” its investments.

2 The rapid breakthrough of Disney+

Arrived late on the streaming market, in 2019 (2020 in France), the multinational Disney benefits from such a catalog and such a planetary strike force (it owns Pixar, Marvel, 21st Century Fox… ) that it quickly caught up: already 152 million subscribers worldwide.

Disney is also adapting its business model. The service has announced a price increase this winter, initially in the United States, and the introduction of a cheaper package with advertising.

3 The millions of Amazon Prime

At Amazon, too, the prices are going up. Since September, the subscription in France has gone from €49 to €69.90 per year. “The VOD behemoths follow a classic pattern in economics: they cut prices to build an audience, and once they believe they have a massive and solid base, they revise the amounts upwards”, observes a specialist in the digital economy.

Compared to Netflix, Disney or Apple, Amazon Prime Video suffered from being considered as a simple complement in the offer of the e-commerce giant. In recent years, the company has not skimped on investments to expand its catalog and assert itself in the production of content. Takeover of MGM, diversification into sport (a difference compared to its competitors) and programs (like “LOL”), and putting “event” fiction into orbit, in particular last September “The Rings of Power”, an inspired saga by the “Lord of the Rings” universe. Budget: one billion dollars for five seasons.

4 Soon Paramount and Universal

Clash of the titans at the start of the last school year. Faced with the “Rings of Power”, HBO Max has uploaded “House of the Dragon”. $20 million budget per episode. HBO Max has however given up on launching in France: its content can be seen on OCS.

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