Disney+, a new video-on-demand streaming service launched by the Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS), launched recently to great fanfare. Just hours after its launch, some customers complained of problems with the service, and many were forced to exit the app and try again. Disney released a sparkling announcement just one day after Disney+ went live, proudly announcing that it had reached a "major milestone" with 10 million sign-ups . The stock surged to a new all-time high on the news, but my colleague Danny Vena warns that this may only be the initial surge, as Disney+ is offering a 7-day free trial.
Cable TV now seems like a distant memory from an antiquated era, as more and more people around the globe are signing up for on-demand movies and TV series. As binge-watching is rapidly becoming a favorite pastime and more and more money is being sunk into creating original content for audiences, it begs the question: "Is streaming becoming too crowded for comfort?"
Game of Thrones sets a precedent
Disney+ is launching just after Apple TV+ announced its launch on November 1. Each company boasts of having its own exclusive library of titles and original content. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is spending $6 billion on original shows, according to reporting from the Financial Times. Disney+ will burn through roughly the same amount on its own exclusive content.
One of the most profitable original TV series, Game of Thrones, just ended its eight-season run on HBO, owned by AT&T. Not only was it the most-watched show on HBO, it was also the most-watched scripted TV show in 2019. It's been estimated that the series generated a total profit of $2.2 billion for HBO.
After witnessing what a mega-successful TV series can achieve in terms of revenue, viewership, and profits, it's no wonder that Disney and Apple have jumped right in to create their own series in the hopes of hitting it big with audiences.
A matter of pricing or content?
With Apple and Disney muscling into the on-demand streaming segment, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) should rightfully be sweating buckets. Netflix can no longer boast of being the dominant provider of streaming services, and there is also the question of whether its competitive advantage may be slowly whittled away.
AppleTV+ is priced at just $4.99 per month while Disney+ is only slightly more expensive at $6.99+. A standard Netflix subscription costs $12.99 per month, while the premium subscription costs $15.99. In order to justify its pricing, Netflix will have to ensure it can serve up the requisite original content to keep its viewers happy.
While it may have had the upper hand at being the first-mover in this industry, Apple and Disney are no pushovers and have more than enough resources and funds to pump into original content in order to swiftly catch up with the incumbent. Disney has the added advantage of having its own rich library of movies and original series that it can inject into its Disney+ platform, further boosting its attractiveness.
Is the pie growing?
All this boils down to yet another key question: Is the on-demand streaming pool of consumers growing, staying stable or shrinking? For those who do not watch TV series or movies regularly, the launch of yet another streaming service will probably not turn them into couch potatoes. And for those who already have their eyes glued to their TV screens daily, the increased plethora of options may confuse rather than excite.
Fortunately, the news is positive on this front. The global streaming market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.8% from 2019 to 2024, reaching $687.2 billion, according to a Vynz Research forecast.
Crowded but lucrative
Although the streaming services space is becoming increasingly crowded with more players jumping into the fray, there is still room for every company to be profitable as demand continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Remember that even Amazon has launched its Prime Video streaming service bundled as part of its Amazon Prime subscription. Nevertheless, as long as each company can offer its own compelling value proposition to viewers and cater to a specific niche, there is more than enough room for all players to co-exist happily.