The Nov. 12 launch of Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, represents a new trend in the streaming industry in which content creators offer subscriptions directly to consumers.
Streaming services like Disney+ could represent a new threat to streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime that primarily focus on distributing other companies’ content.
Dave Ericson, director of digital media and technology for BYU Broadcasting, explained that Netflix, Amazon Prime and live TV streaming services like Sling and YouTube TV are similar to cable and satellite television because they make arrangements with content creators to carry media on their behalf.
Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu have started to feel the same pressure cable and satellite felt upon streaming’s introduction, and these streaming services have created more of their own content. They are trying to provide their own shows and movies to subscribers as more media giants like Disney, AT&T and Comcast pull their content off existing services and start their own.
“Those companies are kind of in jeopardy because they’ve been the middle man,” Ericson said.
The question in the entertainment industry is whether or not Netflix and other aggregate companies can survive by creating their own content and carrying the few shows that are not on another company’s app.
Disney+, for example, will host new content exclusive to the site as well as previously produced Disney, Pixar, Star Wars, Marvel and National Geographic shows and movies. Consumers will only be able to access this content by subscribing to Disney+ for $6.99 per month because all content owned by Disney will be pulled from other streaming services like Netflix.
Running their own streaming service also gives Disney access to the growing portion of consumers that solely watch television and movies online.
This portion is growing according to BYU communications professor Miles Romney, who said most individuals will watch TV shows and movies on streaming services, and a handful of people will remain with cable or satellite because they lack a reliable internet connection.
“Streaming is the future,” Romney said. “These traditional platforms like cable and satellite will be more niche than they will be mainstream.”
He said the current trend is for content creatives to “flip the script” and provide digital streaming services that best meet costumers’ needs and wants.
“We’re driven more towards the digital space,” Romney said. “So the streaming sites just make sense because it’s where we’re at already.”
A recent survey by TV Time and United Talent Agency IQ showed 85% of respondents already subscribe to at least one streaming service and 66% of current subscribers plan to subscribe to at least one more. Disney+ will compete with other new streaming services like Apple TV+ and HBO Max to win over those shopping for another subscription.
The competition won’t be easy, though, according to Romney.
“Everybody is going in this world and trying to figure out this new streaming space, and it’s not just for big broadcasters — if you’re in telecommunications or if you’re in content, you’re going to have a streaming service.”