Battle of the Streaming Apps.



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All of the streaming service giants: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, HBO Max and Apple TV saw parabolic rises in subscribers in 2020. But it seems that they have hit something of a crossroad. As the world starts to return to a degree of normality, these companies have been trying to figure out a way to keep the millions of recent arrivals on board, a disheartening situation that has led to two diverse approaches: stick or twist.

Disney + and HBO Max: Twist

It would be an understatement to say that Disney + and HBO are pulling out all the stops to keep their new user base on board. Airnow’s Data platform shows that in the last 30 days things are looking a bit worrying for Disney+, with declining downloads (-29.4%) and MAUs (-15.1%) globally across Android and iOS.

In the face of these declines, in its latest big conference, Disney laid out plans for 2021, and by-golly are they keen to keep up with the successes of 2020, revealing that some 22 Marvel and Star Wars projects will be landing on the platform in 2021. A commitment that they hope will fuel the company’s efforts to reach 230 million-plus subscribers by the end of the 2024 fiscal year (the service currently has 86 million subs.) For a bit of context, that goal is about 30 million more than the 195 million users Netflix currently has. No pressure.

Following the successful releases of films such as Godzilla v Hong Kong and Mortal Kombat which were released using the novel technique of dual release via cinemas and their streaming service, things aren’t looking as desperate at this moment in time for HBO. This is reflected in Airnow’s Data platform, where in the last 30 days downloads have increased by 103% and MAUs have also grown 26%. To continue in this vein of form, HBO announced their intention to continue this pioneering new model of dual-release for all of their films in 2021, meaning that blockbusters such as The Matrix 4, The Suicide Squad, Mortal Kombat, and Dune will also receive simultaneous theatre and streaming releases.

This announcement has divided opinion. For the average consumer like me and you we are most likely happy, as we can easily and cheaply watch the biggest cinema releases. However, its critics have said the move could spell the death of cinema as we know it. Christopher Nolan was not impressed in the slightest, saying that "some of our industry's biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the greatest movie studio and woke up to find out they were working for the worst streaming service."

Netflix and Amazon: Stick

Netflix and Amazon, meanwhile, are sticking to their tried and tested methods. They have been streaming movies and series and releasing them in cinemas for the masses since 2015 and 2014 respectively. For the kings of streaming, there is no reason to fix what isn’t broken.

The audacious moves from Disney+ and HBO Max have set the stage for a dramatic 2021 for streaming apps and the entertainment industry as a whole. Who do you think will come out the winners?