Strike Ending & Amazon Antitrust - Streaming Services: Power Rankings, FALL 2023

nevin

Hero
I think the end result will be much like what we had with cable TV. Everyone even netflix is moving towards accounts with advertisements. Why? Because no model that has been tried has been as profitable as the old school TV or Cable model of shows with advertisements. BUT!.........Advertisers are only willing to pay like that if they are sure you have to watch the commercials. So get ready for a slow moving blast from the past where eventually all of the streaming services force you to watch commercials. They've spent billions trying to prove that people will spend enough to not watch the commercials, and if they'd just put out standard TV quality fare it could have worked but now they've convinced the internet that everyone deserves AAA shows. Sub models would have to go to about 45 dollars a month for netflix (and it's worse for everyone else who has less content to hold you in place.) to make the money they can make pushing everyone to commercials.
 

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One feature of conversations we often have here on EnWorld about geek media is that they get sidetracked into conversations about the various streaming services that are currently offering the content, instead of being able to talk about the content. So while you want to have a conversation about whether or not the special animated crossover episode of Strange New Worlds was the coolest thing ever, or just as cool as the musical episode, you instead end up discussing Paramount+. Or instead of being able to chat about the best Gary Oldman performance you're not watching, Slow Horses, you end up debating the merits of Apple+.

Therefore, as a public service, I have decided to create these series of threads - for talking about the relative merits of streaming platforms, to discuss industry news and stuff, as well as to allow people to provide their own power rankings of the platforms. This is the sixth post on the subject.
The original post in August 2022 is here.
The second post in November 2022 is here.
The year-end 2022 rankings are here.
The first 2023 rankings are here.
The summer 2023 ranking are here.

I apologize but these posts are going to be US-centric. That's because I am reasonably certain that the 'Murika is the only country, and that every time I have flown "outside the US" I have actually only ended up in 'Murikuh's hat, which is a lot like 'Murikuh, except with more Tim Hortons and a complete inability to win the Stanley Cup.

As usual, the POWER RANKINGS are an excuse to talk about something in the news. I have held off doing a new power ranking until after we could see a little daylight with the WGA and SAF-AFTRA strikes, so ... good news!

How are power rankings determined? They are a completely subjective mix of my opinion as to how the service is doing currently, along with my belief in how the service will be doing in the future. In addition, I will provide a trend (up, down, steady).

First, the strike news- For those of you who don't know, the AMPTP (that's the trade association for the studios/streamers etc.) and the WGA (Writer's Guild) have reached a deal! While it still has to be ratified by the membership, and this is not a completely foregone conclusion ... it's going to happen. Just as importantly, it also puts forth a framework that should allow the actors (SAG-AFTRA) to reach a deal, which should happen fairly soon. In addition, although it will take some time for the full ratification vote, it appears that the WGA will allow people back to work pending the ratification.

Still, it was a long strike. A lot of shows and deals were cancelled in the meantime. A lot of things were delayed. The unexpected and massive success of Barbenheimer at the box office could not be capitalized on, and more importantly, the strike hit just as "peak TV" appeared to be ending as most streamers were cutting costs. So we are looking at an uncertain future.

To give you an idea .... in 2009, there were 210 original scripted shows. In 2022, there were almost three times as many (599). Most people expect that number to decline precipitously, perhaps to the low 400s, perhaps a little lower. With all of that in mind, here's the power rankings!!!!


1. Netflix. (2022: 1, Apr. 2023: 1, Summer 2023: 1)
Netflix has been number 1 since I started these rankings, and I'm not sure what it will take to dislodge them from that lofty spot. The strike hurt everyone, but hurt everyone else much more than Netflix. Netflix remains the only streamer that actually makes money from streaming. It is also the only fully diversified streamer, in terms of having a well-thought out presence in terms of streaming in international markets, as well as producing international shows. While most people are aware of its large and growing selection of Korean shows, how many of you were aware that it had an original Saudi show that was the Saudi equivalent of Black Mirror on the platform?

That said, Netflix's gain may be your loss. As Netflix has grown more and more popular, it has invested less in what we commonly think of as "prestige TV." After all, why spend all that money on shows like sense8 and The Get Down and Altered Carbon when you know the vast majority of your viewers are happy just plopping down and watching Suits? Sure, if a show is a bona fide hit (Stranger Things, The Crown) it will keep on, keepin' on ... but THE ALGORITHM knows what you like. And let's face it ... you like trash. It's okay. But Netflix is going to be servin' it up.



2. HBOMax (2022: 8, Apr 2023: 2, Summer 2023: 5)
Max gets knocked down, but gets up again, you are never gonna keep Max down. Max drinks a whiskey drink, Max drinks a vodka drink, Max drinks a lager drink, Max drinks a cider drink, Max cancels the shows that remind you of the good times, Max cancels the shows that remind you of the better times!

Ahem. Look, I honestly don't know what the heck to do with Max, which is why it is bouncing around so much. Most of the time, it feels like He Who Shall Not Be Named (HWSNBN) spends more time acting as if he is auditioning for the role of "Incompetent Bond Villain" than he does, you know, running the company. "Look everyone, here I am at Cannes while the little people starve! Muahahahahahaha! Did I mention that I changed my compensation scheme so that I can make more millions even while the stock tanks? Muahahahahahahaha!" Also, Max? C'mon.

All that said ... HWSNBN was not totally wrong; he just made the mistake of being first to acknowledge that streaming wasn't the golden paradise that Wall Street had been led to believe. The debt load still has a massive and outsized effect on operations, and the strike did them no favors, but ... Max continues to have an outstanding library. Between the movies, the WB catalog, and the premium HBO content, the overall library is arguably the best of all the streamers. And while many of us might mock the integration of the Discovery content, the fact is that people watch reality TV, and that plugged in a large gap that Max didn't previously have.

I am still not sure what HWSNBN is doing; is he cleaning up the balance sheet for a merger or sale (perhaps to Comcast/Peacock)? Is he just apportioning the money- half to light on fire, half to go to his bank account? WHO KNOWS WHAT EVIL LURKS IN THE HEARTS OF MEN, especially THAT GUY. But facts are facts, and Max has a great library, just added a tier of live sports, and is chugging along.

Heck, I think that HWSNBN managed to open his mouth the other day without changing feet. Baby steps!



3. AppleTV+. (2022: 3, April 2023: 3, Summer 2023: 3)
AppleTV+ is a weird duck. It doesn't have the most subscribers. It's just started to really expand internationally (inking a deal with Canal+, for example). And a lot of people just don't care about it. So ... what gives? Why is it number 3?

Because Apple, the company, isn't in the business of selling you content. This is just a sideline for them. Apple is content to sell you their iPhones and Macs and iPads and Airpods, and just funnel money to win Oscars and Emmies. Did the strike hurt them? Eh, whatever.

Which brings us to the second point. AppleTV+ has a small library, but they are following the HBO model. It's sort of like real estate, except what matters to them is Quality, Quality, Quality. Not every show and movie on AppleTV+ is great, but they consistently put out out quality shows. Whether it's Silo or Slow Dogs, Hijack or Pachinko, Mythic Quest or Severance, Shrinking or Shmigadoon ... if it's from Apple, it's probably pretty good, and it likely starts with an "S".



4. Disney+. (2022: 2, Apr. 2023: 5, Summer 2023: 2).
Why the fall for D+? Well, in the summer they had similar negatives, but everyone else was doing even worse. But before getting into the negatives, let's try and examine the positives looking forward.

In 2024, they will add Hulu. That's a positive. Also? With ESPN, they have access to live sports. Some people care about that. Also, if you have children, they like Disney. And ... that's about it.

Now, the negatives. The strike hurt D+, badly. For adults, the main selling point is the occasional drop of movies (you know, Disney movies) and the occasional new series (which mostly seem to be MCU or Star Wars). The strike has disrupted that pipeline.

We also can't ignore the quality. The last MCU series, Secret Invasion, was ... not good. In general, it would seem that there are diminishing returns on the Marvel part of the D+ experience. And as for Star Wars, the shows have either been "uneven" or have been very high quality, but not watched by a lot of people (sigh, Andor).

And this brings us to the bring problem- the parent company. If you're not aware of it, Disney is struggling right now with a variety of issues. They have been funneling money into streaming, and Wall Street has been unhappy about that. Just as importantly, the movies have not been producing the profits that they used to. Meanwhile, the parks, which are big money makers, need investment. Finally, the cable networks (such as ESPN) throw off cash, but these are diminishing assets given that people are switching from cable to streaming. Oh, and they have to pony up A LOT of money to buy out Comcast's stake in Hulu next year.

In short, there are a lot of simultaneous business issues going on with The Mouse, and no clear path forward right now.



5. Prime. (2022: 6, April 2023: 6, Summer 2023: 4)
Why is Prime at 5? Because I can't rank it below Peacock and Paramount. It's kind of like when you see a state ranked #49 in something ... there's always Mississippi.

Let's start with the good. Prime will continue to be funded by Amazon. Prime also has an international presence and the second-most subscribers after Netflix.

Now, the problems. Most people with Prime don't use it a primary (heh) option. They have it because it's a "free" addition to Amazon Prime Shipping. While it is possible to pay for Prime (technically, Prime Video) as a standalone service, no one does. In fact, starting next year, Prime will be adding advertisements unless you pay an additional $2.99 a month.

Next, while Prime does have a large library (they paid for the MGM library, for example, although they overpaid since they didn't realize that there were rights issues with it), they have a bad tendency to spend a lot of money for little results. The Rings of Power, regardless of what you thought about the quality of the content, looks like a loser in terms of ROI. The Citadel? Don't even. It's not that Prime can't make good shows, it's more that they spend outrageous amounts of money with very little to show for it. And while this flew under the radar for a long time, it appears that this may finally be coming to an end.

Which brings us to the last issue; as you might have heard, the FTC and numerous states just brought an antitrust case against Amazon. While the claims are too numerous to go into, a major part of the complaint is about ... wait for it ... the overall Prime service. Including the fact that Amazon bundles its video service with Prime, and makes it nearly impossible to get Prime Video on a standalone basis. So, at a minimum, you might expect a little less blatant subsidization of Prime (Video) for a while.


6. Peacock. (2022: 7, Apr. 2023: 8, Summer 2023: 6)
Stop trying to make fetch happen.

Well, in this case, with enough money, and enough time, and enough live-sports rights (Olympics?), maybe Comcast will make Peacock happen. I still think it is more likely that at some point, Peacock will end up merged with another player, but we'll see. In the history of ever, has someone said, "Hey, let's watch Peacock tonight?"

Poker Face is a good show.



7. Paramount+. (2022: 6, Apr. 2023: 7, Summer 2023: 7).
Paramount+ maintained its (last-place) position, so why is it red?

Look, I love Paramount+. Why? Because I love Star Trek. And by Star Trek, I mean Beavis and Butthead. But also? Captain Pike's dreamy eyes. Unfortunately, Paramount+ was hurt by the strike worse than any other streamer, because it's a "studio pure play." It doesn't have a massive company backing them. It's not a money maker (like Netflix). It doesn't have a massive subscriber base.

If you're a fan of Star Trek, you likely love the firehose of content that Paramount+ has been producing. But unfortunately, Star Trek isn't enough. Paramount+ is in a precarious position, and all the alliteration in the world won't save them.



REMOVED FROM THE BOARD UNTIL 2024: Hulu.
This pains me, because I have to admit ... Hulu might have some of the best TV series out there. Mostly because of FX, but still. If you like good TV, you can spend all your time on Hulu. From The Bear to Atlanta to The Great (ugh, cancelled after three seasons) to Legion to What We Do In Shadows to Reservation Dogs ... it just keeps going.

But sometime at the beginning of 2024, Disney will purchase Hulu outright. We are already seeing the beginning of this, with Disney trying to force the bundle on you. Since it has no future, I can't include it in the rankings.


I think between Fraiser 2023 and South Park Paramount likely increased their subscriber count by alot.

Fraiser I'd awesome and popular for a low cost and South Park draws in a ton of folks that are angry about how Disney handled Star Wars and to lesser extent Marvel or even Disney in general.

Also Paramount has CBS which is the most successful and watch Network still and Paramount+ merged with Showtime+ so it's got stuff like Dexter, Breaking Bad, etc..., plus alot of the best sitcoms (Young Sheldon, etc...), and the Jag/CSI/NCIS verse. The Yellowstoneverse too.

The idea that Paramount is just Star Trek is false. They have tons of classic, shows, movies, speciality cable channels, Pluto TV the pioneering FAST, Paramount+, Showtime, Cinemax, CBS, Nicoloen, BET & BET+, etc...
 
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Zardnaar

Legend
I think between Fraiser 2023 and South Park Paramount likely increased their subscriber count by alot.

Fraiser I'd awesome and popular for a low cost and South Park draws in a ton of folks that are angry about how Disney handled Star Wars and to lesser extent Marvel or even Disney in general.

Also Paramount has CBS which is the most successful and watch Network still and Paramount+ merged with Showtime+ so it's got stuff like Dexter, Breaking Bad, etc..., plus alot of the best sitcoms (Young Sheldon, etc...), and the Jag/CSI/NCIS verse. The Yellowstoneverse too.

The idea that Paramount is just Star Trek is false. They have tons of classic, shows, movies, speciality cable channels, Pluto TV the pioneering FAST, Paramount+, Showtime, Cinemax, CBS, Nicoloen, BET & BET+, etc...

Yeah we get a lot of that stuff here on different channels.

If we had Paramout+ here would probably ditch Amazon and Disney for a bit and get it.

Netflix comes bundles with ISP and is $3 more expensive as next best plan, Amazon cheap as chips and it will be a while for a Disney+ Star Wars show.
 

nevin

Hero
I think between Fraiser 2023 and South Park Paramount likely increased their subscriber count by alot.

Fraiser I'd awesome and popular for a low cost and South Park draws in a ton of folks that are angry about how Disney handled Star Wars and to lesser extent Marvel or even Disney in general.

Also Paramount has CBS which is the most successful and watch Network still and Paramount+ merged with Showtime+ so it's got stuff like Dexter, Breaking Bad, etc..., plus alot of the best sitcoms (Young Sheldon, etc...), and the Jag/CSI/NCIS verse. The Yellowstoneverse too.

The idea that Paramount is just Star Trek is false. They have tons of classic, shows, movies, speciality cable channels, Pluto TV the pioneering FAST, Paramount+, Showtime, Cinemax, CBS, Nicoloen, BET & BET+, etc...
they have but paramount has grown slowly and steadily without pulling all the kookoo silicon valley if we keep pouring more money it has to succeed stuff. they've had some ups and downs but have mostly grown without taking on the crazy debts that some of the other services have to try and get ahead. The result from what I've read is a fairly steady base of customers. They've always preferred the customers that want cheaper subs that they can push to commercials.
 

and Amazon is about to upend everything


Bank of America’s Justin Post estimated in a Jan. 3 note that the company will ultimately generate $3 billion in new ad revenue from the switch, and nearly $5 billion when accounting for users who opt to pay not to see ads. LightShed’s Rich Greenfield estimates that the company will hit $2 billion in ad revenue this year. Both analysts assume that the overwhelming majority of users will opt not to pay extra to remove the ads.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
and Amazon is about to upend everything


Bank of America’s Justin Post estimated in a Jan. 3 note that the company will ultimately generate $3 billion in new ad revenue from the switch, and nearly $5 billion when accounting for users who opt to pay not to see ads. LightShed’s Rich Greenfield estimates that the company will hit $2 billion in ad revenue this year. Both analysts assume that the overwhelming majority of users will opt not to pay extra to remove the ads.
Not from me, im cancelling because of their flea market DVD bin selection.
 



Ryujin

Legend
Hasn't Prime been doing this for quite some time now? The offer linked subscriptions to Starz, Shudder, and many other streaming services.
 

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