watching tv

How the broadcast industry will capitalise on the Netflix/Disney rift

We’re signed up to three streaming services in my house. Netflix was there first, then we jumped on the Amazon Prime Video and Now TV bandwagons. Chances are, if we’re looking for a film or TV show to watch, it’s available to stream on one of them. But that may not be the case for much longer. We could soon need five, six, or more services just to get the same level of content we’ve come to expect at our fingertips – and it’s partly thanks to Disney.

Rights holders have been taking content and delivering it through their own platforms for a while, especially sports. But last week, Disney announced that it’s pulling all of its movies from Netflix in favour of its own streaming service. No more watching Frozen or The Jungle Book in between episodes of 13 Reasons Why or Ozark.

This move from Disney has catapulted the issue of online streaming into the mainstream consumer arena. Now even my mum is wondering whether she’ll need more than a Netflix subscription to watch Hollywood content in the future. She’s used to waiting forever and a day until Netflix gets its hands on certain content rights, but what if that day never comes?

Disney’s choice to go its own way is an interesting one for all of us as a result. By letting the Netflix deal lapse, it’s walking away from millions upon millions of dollars in licensing rights. Disney is betting big on its own platform being able to eclipse those figures in the future. For anyone other than Disney, it’d be seen as a high risk-high reward strategy. But I suppose there’s no question whether the international giant will be able to attract millions of subscribers to its new service.

So what’s the future of streaming video going to look like? Well, Netflix has prepared for this, of course. It’s thrown billions of dollars at its own original content, and so too has Amazon. But if other rights holders follow Disney’s lead, the Netflix we know and love could look vastly different in the near future.

And this leads us neatly to what’ll be discussed behind closed doors at the biggest annual event in the broadcast calendar next month – IBC.

Given what’s currently going on in the sector, we’re going to be seeing a lot of hype around the delivery of OTT-as-a-Service, diminishing the barriers to entry and helping rights holders launch their own platforms overnight. Content discovery, in its many forms, will also be much more prevalent this year than any before it, as it’ll have a key role to play in keeping consumers engaged and subscribed to these new services once they’ve parted with their hard earned cash.

It’s good news for the industry but it’s less clear-cut whether all this will be good for the consumer. When new services pop up, and they will in the next few years, it’ll become expensive, and inconvenient, to have access to them all. And where will we be then?

TV is changing once again before our eyes, and the Netflix/Disney spat is just the tip of the iceberg.

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