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Why No-one Will Lose The ‘Streaming Wars’- Except Us

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The so-called streaming wars are heating up and, while at this point it’s probably like beating a dead horse, I thought I’d give my take on it. Netflix undoubtedly won Round One, in fact they decimated the competition. And Netflix’s success was so enviable that every media outlet wanted the same. And so, comes Round Two. Netflix dominated what little competition it had in Round One, but now it’s a much busier playing field. Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Hulu, Peacock, and many more are vying for the top spot- or are they?

I don’t think there will be any one winner of the streaming wars. Everyone will be a winner. The current ‘King’ of streaming, Netflix, made an estimated $25 billion in 2020, Disney Plus generated an estimated $4.5 billion, HBO Max made an estimated $3.8 billion. If that’s losing, I’d happily be called a loser. Which brings me to my point; all these corporations are winning, eventually they’ll be making tens of billions a year. That doesn’t mean they’ll all be the same though…

I believe there will be a ‘Big 5’. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, HBO Max (provided it launches worldwide), and Apple TV+. These five services will thrive, they will dominate the market, generate the most income, have the most influence, create the most content. Why? Netflix is the grandfather of streaming, it has had its foot in the proverbial door far too long to be ousted, and it has one invaluable advantage over all the others: experience. Netflix has been at this far longer than all the others, it is the blueprint for modern streaming, it paved the way, Disney Plus, HBO Max, all owe their success and even their existence, to Netflix. It isn’t going anywhere. Netflix’s experience also gives them knowledge about their audience. Netflix knows its audience well, it knows what we like, what is successful and what isn’t. Younger streaming services are just testing the water; yes, Disney has been going for over 90 years but 2021 is only its second year in streaming, and so it’s still figuring out what works and what doesn’t with regards to everything from their content to their user interface. Meanwhile Disney Plus and HBO Max will be part of this ‘Big 5’ because they are owned by Disney and Warner Bros respectively; two of the biggest studios in movie history, together they own some of the most famous intellectual property (IP) in history. Something we’ve already seen them both flex this year; Disney with their Star Wars TV shows, Marvel TV shows, and HBO Max having new DC films, gaining vast subscribers very quickly. Those two are also here to stay. 

Still from Disney Plus’ WandaVision

The reason I also think Amazon Prime and, perhaps controversially, Apple TV+ will be part of the Big 5 is because they aren’t streamers, or movie studios. They are two of the biggest companies in the world. Apple TV+ is backed by a multi TRILLION-dollar company, Amazon Prime is owned by the richest man in the world, they have an almost infinite supply of cash to pour into their streaming services until they are hugely popular and successful, it doesn’t matter if they lose money. Netflix is valued at about $250 billion, which is a drop in the water compared to Amazon’s $1.7 trillion and an ever-smaller drop compared to Apple’s $2.08 trillion worth. Amazon Prime already has the second largest amount of subscribers behind only Netflix, and have also recently acquired MGM, one of the oldest movie studios in Hollywood, giving them a vault of legendary IP like Disney and Warner Bros. Apple TV+ is trailing behind with only (roughly) 65 million subscribers, but as I’ve said, Apple TV+ is backed by the single largest company in the world, its current ‘failings’ mean nothing, Apple will keep throwing money at it until it becomes successful. And many of Apple TV+’s subscribers are using the free trial provided when you buy a new Apple product, and if one year for free is an incentive to buy a $1,000 iPhone, or a $2,000 MacBook, Apple don’t really care. If people upgrade their iPhone with every new release and pay $1,000, that’s far more than a year’s subscription to Apple TV+ costs and as they upgrade yearly, people are getting a subscription to Apple TV+ at no extra cost in perpetuity so Apple simply are too big to care about streaming profits that much, but they’ll keep pouring money into it regardless so it will grow. Apple is also a baby streaming service, launching the same year as Disney+ but without the huge catalogue of pre-existing content Disney had, over the years they will grow and have more content, they can afford to swoop in and pay $250m at the drop of a hat to acquire Martin Scorsese’s next film: Killers of the Flower Moon, they have won Emmys, they have deals with some of the world’s biggest stars, and they will continue to do so. 

A still from Apple’s (Martin Scorsese’s) Killers of the Flower Moon

What about all the others, then? What happens to Peacock, or Hulu, or Paramount+? I think all of these will comfortably survive. They won’t come close to threatening Netflix, or Disney Plus, but they also won’t come close to going bankrupt. They will exist very comfortably and be successful, just not so successful to threaten the ‘big 5’. So, my predictions for the streaming wars are that everyone wins, and no-one loses. Well, not no-one but no streaming service…

Call me cynical but the only loser in all of this is us. The consumer. Traditional television died because to watch everything you wanted to, you had to pay for lots of different channels, then streaming, specifically Netflix came along and provided an alternative; stream whatever you want, whenever you want, no ads, at a tenth of the cost, if that. And Netflix boomed, which led to the birth of every movie studio, every TV channel having their own streaming service and so… we’ve done a loop. We went from having to buy lots of different channels to watch everything we wanted, to paying for one or two streaming services, back to having to buy lots of different streaming services (channels) to watch everything we want. Streaming also had the advantage of no ads, but HBO Max recently introduced a cheaper version with ads.

 Perhaps other services will follow suit and we will be back to spending more money on our TV and we’ll have to watch ads (if you can’t or don’t want to pay for the ad-free version). Still though, they can’t take away the benefit of being able to pick what to watch and when to watch it, so that’s good. Also, the actual content we’re getting is incredible and volume we’re getting it in is tremendous compared to the pre-Netflix era. However, to subscribe to every major streaming service isn’t that much cheaper than traditional TV anymore and the cost will continue to go up; Netflix Premium had a 17% price increase in the US between 2013 and 2017, and another 14% increase between 2017 and 2019 (their price increases aren’t limited to the premium service) and that increase isn’t limited to Netflix and it won’t stop. Streaming was successful, streaming changed the way we consume media, because it was better and cheaper than traditional TV, now it’s just better. 

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The Acolyte | Official Trailer | Disney +

Star Wars series that takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Drama

Release Date:

June 4, 2024

Director:

Leslye Headland

Cast:

Dafne Keen, Amandla Stenberg, Jodie Turner-Smith

Plot Summary:

Star Wars series that takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.

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Maya’s Story To Echo Through Time

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Vincent D'Onofrio (Wilson Fisk) & Alaqua Cox (Maya Lopez) (Disney)

Here is the review of Marvel Studios’ Echo, now streaming on Disney Plus.

Plot

Marvel Studios presents “Echo,” spotlighting Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) as she is pursued by Wilson Fisk’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) criminal empire. When the journey brings her home, she must confront her own family and legacy. Streaming January 9 on Disney+ & Hulu. Set your Disney+ profile to TV-MA to stream. All episodes will be available on Hulu until April 9.

Starring: Alaqua Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Chaske Spencer, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, and Devery Jacobs.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez / Echo (Disney)

Review

There is in total 5 episodes and it was available immediately and this is really amazing, allowing us to binge watch the season in 1 sitting. A big part of Echo’s storyline focuses on giving the viewer a glimpse into her ancestral history and her past with the Kingpin of crime.

Maya develops as a strong character in this story more than the Maya we met in the Hawkeye series. Alaqua Cox really delivers an exceptional performance. As always Vincent D’Onofrio plays his heart out as Wilson Fisk, the notorious Kingpin who has been dominating our screen since the Daredevil TV Series on Netflix back in the day. We get a few surprises, even though short pieces, but it is still appreciated and I will not spoil those surprises in the hope that you will go and watch the episodes later and experience the same level of joy I experienced.

A lot of effort was done with regards to the language options. Choctaw was added as a language option on Disney Plus. I read that some of the cast learned American Sign Language (ASL) in order to communicate with Alaqua on set and this really warms my heart. A lot of research was done on the Choctaw nation and was incorporated as part of Maya’s storyline.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez / Echo (Disney)

Some of the less positive notes are the series was rated as meant for mature audiences only. However, the action scenes were little and not as brutal as expected if compared with the likes of the Daredevil series. Maya’s powers was also changed slightly from the comic books but it takes a positive turn closer to the end. Really looking forward to the part Maya / Echo will play later on as I feel she portrays the part of a hero very well.

I highly encourage watching the original Netflix series’ Daredevil and Hawkeye to get the background of some of the key characters in this story. I highly encourage subscribing to Marvel Unlimited to read up about Maya Lopez / Echo, Wilson Fisk / Kingpin or any of your favorite Marvel characters.

There is a mid-credits scene that you don’t want to miss, but no post-credits scene. The mid-credits feel familiar to the comic book direction.

I rate this series a 3.5 out of 5. Maya’s story will echo through the cinematic universe, as a story of bravery and strength. Sometimes all you need is a healing hand, a key theme from Marvel Studios’ Echo. I’m looking forward to more of Maya on the screen.

Watch all 5 episodes on Disney Plus now!

Echo Official Trailer (Marvel Entertainment)

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Doctor Who: The Giggle, A Wildly Satisfying Finale That Teases A Promising Future

Russel T. Davies’ Whoniverse-reshaping finale is a thrilling, heartwarming, chilling, and satisfying hour of telly, that never eases up.

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SPOILER’S AHEAD!

As brilliantly put by beloved Doctor Who companion Donna Noble, “That was completely nuts!” The final episode of the three 60th anniversary specials, “The Giggle” may just well be the most bonkers, yet impeccable piece of Doctor Who TV… ever. Where last weeks special “Wild Blue Yonder” saw writer Russell T. Davies deliver a masterful episode in restrained storytelling, “The Giggle” is the showrunner unleashed. Throwing epic musical numbers, eerie moments of horror, impactful social commentary, and a divisive yet satisfying final 20 minutes result in an unrelenting hour of telly, and perhaps the best episode of Doctor Who ever.

Kicking off with John Logie Baird’s invention of the television in 1925 as well as introducing audiences to “Stooky Bill” – a real puppet who could put Annabelle to shame – “The Giggle” quickly picks up where “Wild Blue Yonder” left off. In the midst of world wide carnage, the Doctor (David Tenant) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) must search for answers as to why planes are falling out of the sky, and human beings are busy beating each other up on the streets, leading the two to the celestial Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris), one of the most powerful beings in the universe.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

Russell T. Davies is never one to shy away from delivering a script oozing with his rightful fury at current social climates. Take previous episodes like “Midnight” “The Long Game” and “Turn Left” for example all offering impactful stories with themes of human nature, the power of media, and anti-immigration prejudice respectively. Here, Russell T. Davies satirically imitates anti-vaxers, anti-maskers, conspiracy theories, and government empathy brilliantly. Some of it may be a little on the nose – such as a hilarious and obvious dig at Boris Johnson – but it more or less works in favour of poignant, and well-crafted satire.

“The Giggle’s” mad cap, and unprecedented energy is only more apparent through the episodes many tonal shifts. Under the guise of another property, this constant tonal shift would have felt jarring. But in “The Giggle” the episode pivots in-and-out of horror, comedy, musical, and drama effortlessly, adding to episodes manic and unpredictable nature.

Keeping on theme with last weeks unnerving episode, “The Giggle” is surprisingly steeped in horror. Especially for those who suffer from pupaphobia, the fear of puppets. Whether its the imagery of that “gosh darn” creepy doll, Stooky Bill, or the Toymakers endless gothic labryinth, “The Giggle” is another terrifying episode of Doctor Who, proving once again that this sci-fi show isn’t for children. No scene is scarier perhaps than the haunting scene with Stooky Bill’s wife, Stooky Sue, who’s found crying in the corner of a dark room, before creeping towards Donna chanting a horrifying rhyme. But its all played for laughs when Donna nonchalantly beats the puppet senseless.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

Elsewhere, Neil Patrick Harris’ Toymaker who stole the show. His multi-faceted, and multi-accented villain proves to be the deadliest enemy the Doctor has ever faced, as well as perhaps the most entertaining. Harris’ intoxicating performance enthuses the Toymaker with fear, intelligence, and a playfulness unlike any villain we have seen before. His celestial abilities are terrifying and unparalleled, making the Master – the Doctors nemesis/best friend – look like an amateur. Through the subtle yet deeply fascinating line, “I made a jigsaw out of your history” – explaining, teasing and disregarding the recent messy Whoniverse canon with ease – the Toymaker becomes much more of a threat. Lets not forget the unexpectedly brilliant “Spice Up Your Life” musical number where the Toymaker effortlessly turns soldiers into balloons, once again proving his celestial power.

Bringing back David Tennant – the most popular actor to ever take on the role – was perhaps Davies’ wisest decision upon returning, and reviving the show. Tennant’s return doesn’t just provide a great headline for the show that would drive its viewers back after an incredibly messy past few years, but also offers a heartwarming vulnerability to a character who hasn’t stopped running, fighting, and caring for nearly two decades. The Doctor has never taken a second to grieve, or stop running. He’s lost innumerable companions, and was responsible for destroying half the universe with the Flux. A messy piece of Doctor Who canon which has now been beautifully woven into the Doctor’s character thanks to Russel T. Davies.

Davies delves into the characters vulnerability, and insecurities forcing the Doctor to question his being, and ability to save others. The line “I’m all sonic, and TARDIS, and Time lord, take that away, what am I?” is an incredibly powerful piece of character development, made all the more impactful through Tennant’s performance. The Doctor has always put himself above others, but “The Giggle”, more specifically Donna, encourages the Doctor to stop trying to sacrifice himself for others, and to instead take a second to care for himself.

With Tennant returning to the role, audiences will instantly have that connection to this version of the Doctor, making his vulnerability much more heart-wrenching, and his ending much more satisfying.

Tate was equally fantastic as she has been through all three specials. Her confident, and hilarious performance continues to prove why Donna Noble is one of the best ever Doctor Who companions, and her chemistry with Tennant is deeply infectious.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

The episode carried a lot of emotional stakes way before the title music kicked in, what with the episode forcing viewers to sit through another David Tennant regeneration. However, what was supposed to be an emotional finale, resulted in an unprecedented and incredibly exciting final 20 minutes. Davies introduced possibly the most divisive aspect of the show… well ever. We are of course talking about, Bi-generation. The idea that instead of changing faces, the Doctor instead becomes two Doctor’s. A current Doctor, and a new Doctor. This not only served as a great way to introduce Ncuti Gatwa, who instantly proved himself as an extraordinary Doctor, but also gives the 14th Doctor a satisfying arc that finally lets him rest.

Bi-generation is a fantastic concept for now, but in the future, this idea could lose all the emotional weight a regeneration used to harbour. Saying goodbye to a current incarnation of the Doctor was never easy. But, if Bi-generation is a continued element then no regeneration will be as impactful or emotional as it once was. For now, it was perfect.

All in all, “The Giggle” – and collectively all three specials – are some of the best work Doctor Who has ever put out. The final special of the 60th celebrations served as a satisfying and emotional goodbye to the modern era of Doctor Who and an exciting tease at the franchises future. It’s an undoubtedly bonkers satire, that blends horror, musical, comedy, and drama elements together to create the best and most heart-warming Doctor Who episode ever. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us Whovians.

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