Prior to the pandemic, the streaming media service sector was dominated by Netflix and Amazon Prime. Each had a very different beginning. Netflix was a DVD by mail company. Started in 1997, it began to move to streaming services in 2007. With over 200 million subscribers worldwide, it is arguably the largest service by subscriber count. Amazon Prime Video was started as one of the benefits of Amazon Prime, Amazon’s high price customer service package.
The growth of some services has slowed. Most notably, Netflix has actually lost some subscribers recently.
Streaming was given a huge boost by the COVID-19 pandemic. People were forced to stay home, and most theaters were shuttered for the better part of a year. There was even worry that the largest of them, AMC, might go out of business.
Several streaming services have entered that market in the last few years. The most successful of these is Disney Plus. Launched in November 2019. It included movies from the Disney studios–Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, and Pixar. Many movies from these studios have been the most successful films in the world based on domestic box office. Disney+ has over 150 million subscribers.
In the next tier of streaming service based on subscribers is HBO Max. It has over 80 million subscribers.
Most of the top services have price points at or over $9.99 per month. The least expensive, at $4.99 a month, is Apple TV+. It is also, to this point, the least successful, with a subscriber count of just above 50 million.
Despite its size Apple TV+ is a major competitor to the other leaders in the field. It has one of the strongest balance sheets in the world. It continues to generate billions of dollars of cash flow each year. And, it has an installed base of hardware (iPhone, Watch, Mac) of over one billion devices. It can market directly to these. And, while programming has started to hurt Netflix’s financials, Apple has no such problem, and won’t.
Apple’s $4.99 price, the lowest among the large services, plus its brand and marketing prowess means it is a danger to every other service in American, and overseas.
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