StreamWars III: Revenge of The Binge
The Stream Wars continue Nerds. In our last journey, the conversation was all about the dominant showing of The Empire of Mouse's release of The Disney+ service. In the time since, the rebellion has seen some positives along the way. Services from rebellious outposts like NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia, and the someone independent platform that is Quibi. So in this finale of The Stream Wars, hopefully, I will finish with the new showing on streaming services and finally breakdown what is offered and how much is out there for those willing to cut the proverbial chord that is The Cable Company. I say hopefully because I would hate for far more streaming services to come out and 30&Nerdy having to release terrible prequels and less than stellar sequels to The Stream Wars Saga…no offense…
So with a global pandemic still shaking our sense of normal, what are people doing? Streaming of course. Binging shows, watching things, the new normal. Are Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and the others cutting? Well apparently not because we have three new services added to the StreamWars that I am going to discuss and break down in this episode. After that I am going to give some statistics of where we stand in the StreamWars and who is winning it, so to speak.
Quibi is short for Quick Bites. It was founded in August of 2018 as NewTV by Jefferey Katzenberg and is led by Meg Whitman, its CEO. In October of 2018, it was renamed to Quibi. The service targets a younger demographic with content delivered in 10-minute episodes called "quick bites." With partnerships like Google, T Mobile, Steven Spielberg, Antoine Fuqua, Catherine Hardwicke; and financial investors like The Walt Disney Company, Warner Media, and other production companies, a chance for any specific company to dictate the app is sparse. The partnership with T-Mobile will include the service being offered to all new T-Mobile customers as Disney+ has been to Verizon customers.
Quibi charges $4.99 for its service with ads and $7.99 a month for ad free service. Its videos are an eclectic mix, including long form narratives distributed in short chapters, reality programs, documentaries, and food shows, as well as daily news programs from NBC News. In its first year, the service predicts to roll out 175 shows and 8,500 episodes. Everything will be designed with phones in mind, and not television screens. For instance, Spielberg's After Dark series will only appear on the service at night. Some aspects of what you watch will also change depending on how you hold your phone, horizontally or vertically.
Although there is a chance to change entertainment forever if successful, this is a gamble. You have to deliver the right way. Yes, typically, especially as Americans, we spend way more time on our phones than anywhere else. That needs to be the driving force in marketing and what sells it. Make it personal. Only available on phones, lean towards Millennials and younger generations with what you put on the service. That way, it is almost exclusive to have Quibi. Quibi is almost designed for you and you alone. The scary part and the bigger gamble is if you look at TikTok, yes mobile, yes driven for younger audience, but it relies on user generated original content. That's easy and free to obtain. Quibi will rely on and is focused on quality productions, paying as much as $6 million an hour for long-form narrative content.
The gamble is long term reach, long term attention. What will keep people staing with the service for a long period of time. What will keep them from deleting after a few "episodes" of something. Especially with it being $4.99 a month with ads. So far, the service has seen numbers that are putting them on track to signing close to 2 Million subscriptions by April of 2021. The company had projected, and were planning on much bigger numbers. Their goal was to have 7.4 million by that date…so not looking good.
The name for the service comes from NBC's famous logo and mascot, which have been used since 1956. (Remember the "Proud as a Peacock" slogan from a few years ago?) Peacock offers multiple tiers of service, including a free limited access plan; Peacock Premium, an all-inclusive plan for around $5 a month with ads; and Peacock Premium Plus, an all-inclusive plan without ads for a higher rate of about $10 a month. Peacock Free offers thousands of hours of programming, including next-day access to current episodes of first-year NBC shows, movies from Universal Studios and DreamWorks, daily news, sports shows and other curated content. The big catch that comes with the free tier is that only select episodes of the original shows developed by NBC are available. Additionally, viewers don’t have access to all of NBC’s network content on the free version of Peacock.
Peacock Free offers thousands of hours of programming, including next-day access to current episodes of first-year NBC shows, movies from Universal Studios and DreamWorks, daily news, sports shows and other curated content. The big catch that comes with the free tier is that only select episodes of the original shows developed by NBC are available. Additionally, viewers don’t have access to all of NBC’s network content on the free version of Peacock. Beyond price, the big question for most viewers is what they can expect to watch on Peacock. The 2020 Olympics were supposed to be a big part of the Peacock launch, but those plans were derailed by the postponement of the Olympic Games until 2021. Of course, the network still has plenty of other enjoyable content for viewers. It's currently airing many popular shows (past and present), including classic comedies like Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock as well as critically acclaimed dramas like Law & Order, Friday Night Lights and Downton Abbey.
The slate of former blockbuster films includes beloved franchises like Jurassic Park, Back to the Future and The Fast & The Furious. Another perk of premium membership is early access to NBC's late-night talk shows. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon streams early on Peacock at 8 p.m. ET, followed by Late Night with Seth Meyers at 9 p.m. ET. That means fans of the shows who normally lose sleep to watch them both can get to bed much earlier — not a bad perk.
Unfortunately, only a few of Peacock’s original shows were available on the launch date in April 2020, but more original content has been released since then. Two of the most anticipated upcoming shows include the reboots of Saved by the Bell (starring Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley) and Punky Brewster, which stars Soleil Moon Frye as an adult version of the titular character. Other new shows recently released or coming soon to Peacock include dramas Brave New World, starring Demi Moore, and Dr. Death, starring Alec Baldwin, Jamie Dornan and Christian Slater.
Need a laugh? Comedies include Rutherford Falls, co-created by Mike Schur, Sierra Teller Ornelas and Ed Helms, who also has a starring role in the show. Rashida Jones is heading a comedy pilot of her own called Straight Talk, starring Jada Pinkett Smith, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Norman Lear and Mindy Kaling. Clearly, a lot of star power will be a huge benefit for Peacock.
If you’re wondering what will happen to all the NBC shows that are currently streaming on Hulu, those shows will remain on that service for now. NBC has had a streaming partnership with Hulu for many years, and Comcast NBCUniversal made a deal with Disney — the majority owner of Hulu — to give Disney full control of the content with the stipulation that NBC shows could air on Hulu and Peacock at the same time. When that deal expires in two years, NBC is likely to renegotiate the terms and could potentially remove NBC content from Hulu at that point.
Is Adding Yet Another Streaming Service Worth It?
Peacock has an attractive price point that falls in line with other streaming services. In comparison, Hulu's basic tier with ads is around $6 a month, and its premium service without ads is just shy of $12 a month. Hulu’s parent company, Disney, bundles Hulu with Disney+ and ESPN+ for a discount-worthy price of just under $13 a month. Otherwise, Disney+ runs about $7 a month, and ESPN+ runs close to $6. So when you start to add all these price points, some would say that you are getting closer to a cable bill; this isn't including Netflix, Showtime, AMC, and let's not forget…HBO Max.
HBO Max is a AT&T WarnerMedia's on demand streaming service that released back in May. It is based on WarnerMedia's HBO premium TV service and includes all of its programming, plus a range of additional original programming and library content from all parts of WarnerMedia, as well as third-party content providers from which WarnerMedia bought streaming rights. According to AT&T, HBO Max had garnered 4.1 million activated subscribers by the end of June 2020, 1.1 million of whom get free access through HBO pay TV subscriptions; there are at least 21 million additional HBO pay TV customers whose subscriptions make them eligible for free access to HBO Max but who had not activated the service by that time.
HBO Max was formed under WarnerMedia's Entertainment division, then headed by Robert Greenblatt. Kevin Reilly, president of WarnerMedia Entertainment Networks which includes most of the company's ad-supported entertainment channels such as TBS, TNT, and TruTV, was also given the role of as chief content officer of HBO Max with responsibility for HBO Max-exclusive original programming and library content. Andy Forssell was named the service's executive vice president and general manager while still reporting to Otter Media CEO Tony Goncalves, who leads development. Casey Bloys, programming president of HBO, retained oversight of the core HBO service but was not initially involved with Max-exclusive programming.
On August 7, 2020, WarnerMedia announced a major restructuring under new president Jason Kilar, which he described as "leaning into this great moment of change" towards direct-to-consumer services. As a result, Greenblatt and Reilly both left the company, and WarnerMedia Entertainment was dissolved, with programming operations combined with Warner Bros. in a new Studios and Networks group under that studio's CEO Ann Sarnoff. Bloys was given full programming oversight of HBO and HBO Max, as well as Reilly's other previous responsibilities, reporting to Sarnoff. Forssell became the head of a new HBO Max operating business unit, reporting directly to Kilar.[
WarnerMedia indicated that the service would have 10,000 hours of content at-launch, including first-run and library content from the namesake HBO (including its original series, documentaries, and specials), and content from the company's other brands and networks. WarnerMedia stated that the service would have over 2,000 films available at-launch, including HBO's existing pay television rights that are sourced from studios including sister company Warner Bros. Pictures, Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Studios (the latter two have respective output deals with HBO until 2022; films from 20th Century will likely move to Disney+ and Hulu once its output deal expire, while future rights to Universal films are still up for negotiation despite the launch of Peacock).
As with HBO's existing streaming platforms, HBO Go and HBO Now (but as opposed to its platforms on Apple TV Channels and Amazon Video Channels), HBO Max is not expected to include feeds of HBO's linear cable channels, nor is it expected to include any content (including original programming) from Cinemax, which will concurrently wind down its original programming efforts as WarnerMedia reallocates its programming investments towards HBO Max. (Cinemax shares its film content with the linear HBO channel, and therefore the majority of films in the combined library will be on both services in different windows, but films will not necessarily be available on both HBO Max and Cinemax at the same time.) AT&T chairman and CEO Randall L. Stephenson has not ruled out adding live content from Turner Sports in the future (such as the NBA on TNT, Major League Baseball on TBS, and NCAA March Madness). I know I would love to see AEW on TNT show up on the service.
Game of Thrones, Pretty Little Liars, exclusive rights to Friends and Fresh Prince; HBO Max is making waves with its library. That doesn't include popular old and new content from Warner Brothers like Joker, A Star is Born, and the Watchmen Series. If you are a Big Bang Theory fan, it's there. The millions of dollars that they shelled out to acquire exclusive rights to shows like Friends and Fresh Prince, has opened them up to reunion options. Both Friends and Fresh Prince are going to be airing reunion specials on the service with original casts returning for both. The biggest drive for me as someone who didn't own any other HBO products, is the Game of Thrones series being available day 1. Other HBO titles that I couldn't watch like WestWorld and Barry are there. Now I can watch HBO content and other Warner Brothers content with one app. As predicted, DC content is heavy in the app with more on its way as WarnerMedia slowly fades DC Universe in the HBO Max service, which is obviously smart and cost cutting at the same time.
Some of the original content HBO Max will have are shows like brand new Looney Toons cartoons, Raised by Wolves, The Gossip Girl reboot, Justice League Dark series, Grease Rise of The Pink Ladies, Doom Patrol, West Wing / Fresh Prince / and Friends reunion specials, and so much more. That's HBO Max content. As I have stated though, you get all other HBO content as well as other Warner Media content. This is the service to add in my opinion. What I ask myself when picking a service is can I get some of these things somewhere else? If not, get it. HBO Max has so much and more on the way when it comes to exclusives. So I say pull the chord and start streaming with this one. For two words only…Lovecraft Country. Check it out.
It's time to talk stats Nerds, and we know we love stats! Here is where we stand as of right now. So I am going to list the current numbers as best as I can find from some of the streaming giants. Some of these numbers are from as late as last month. So let's see what the global pandemic has done for each one. Again, some of these are not updated numbers and some haven't even finished their first quarter. These are in no particular order.
Netflix: 193 Million Paid subscriptions (That's up 26 Million since January 1st of this year)
Hulu: 35.5 Million Paid subscriptions (That's up almost 3 Million since last quarter)
Disney+: 50 Million Paid subscriptions (That's as of April 2020)
Amazon Prime: 64.8 Million Paid subscriptions (46.3 Million of that is in The US Alone)
DC Universe: Less than 50,000 Paid subscriptions…time to go ahead and fade into HBO Max there guys.
AppleTV: over 33 Million subscribers, but a huge majority are on free trials through new IPhones
The Peacock: numbers will not be available until their first quarter is over
Quibi: Streaming service Quibi only managed to convert a little under 10 percent of its early wave of users into paying subscribers, says mobile analytics firm Sensor Tower. According to the firm’s new report on Quibi’s early growth, the short-form video platform signed up about 910,000 users in its first few days back in April. Of those users, only about 72,000 stuck around after the three-month free trial, indicating the app had about an 8 percent conversion rate.
Showtime and CBS All Access: With a combined 10 Million subscribers, Showtime and CBS All Access are on track to have a combined 25 Million by 2022.
ESPN+: 7.9 Million Paid subscriptions (many are packaged subscribers)
Those are the stats as of now. Please, if you can find some that I have not found, let me know. Some of those numbers are rough and some are astronomical. I hope to see some of them come up for HBO Max and I would hate to see Quibi fail because it is such a cool concept. So if you haven't, subscribe. Let me know what you like the best and dislike out of the ones you have.