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Who’s Winning The Streaming Wars?

June 30, 2020 Sarah Cavill

The last several months have been an interesting time for streaming services. The quarantines offered benefits to some streaming platforms and were a detriment to others, but consumers continue to subscribe to new services, including Disney+ and HBO Max. Moving forward, post-quarantine subscription growth will require streaming brands to innovate and consider new ways to stay relevant in a busy marketplace. Recently, big winners in the streaming wars include Disney+, while short-form original programming hasn’t yet taken off.

HBO Max Sets Course For Expansion After Initial Customer Confusion 

Shutterstock-1532094296 Grand Prairie, TX/USA Oct 2019: HBO Max logo on tablet screen. HBO Max is a new streaming service for watching premium video content.

The launch on May 27 of HBO Max, another streaming product from HBO, created some subscriber confusion and led the brand to re-approach their cadre of offerings. HBO parent company WarnerMedia announced that HBO Go, the mobile app for HBO subscribers, will be “sunsetted” by the end of July, leaving HBO Now, HBO Max and HBO. HBO Now, which was previously HBO’s main streaming service, has been upgraded to HBO Max for most subscribers, but not all, depending on service provider.

While this shuffle may have been necessary to clarify membership access, HBO Max launched with the HBO brand already posting big subscriber numbers. WarnerMedia hopes to leverage the brand’s popularity for subscriber growth at HBO Max. HBO products have more than 53 million subscribers and WarnerMedia is shooting for HBO Max to hit 80 million subscribers by 2025.

According to reports, HBO Max, which offers “access [to] the entire HBO library plus additional content like Cartoon Network shows and the Studio Ghibli movies,” neared two million downloads in the two weeks after launching. There are no plans to release current subscriber numbers for HBO Max until the second-quarter earnings are released in July.

Quibi Looks To Expand The Short Video Market

Shutterstock_1453902488 July 17, 2019, Brazil. In this photo illustration the Quibi logo is displayed on a smartphone.

Quibi is poised to be the next big thing in streaming, offering original content in less than 10 minute bites to be watched only on mobile devices. The pandemic, which kept people home instead of out and about with their phones, has left Quibi short on subscribers for the moment, although they believe that could change as quarantines lift around the country. The Wall Street Journal reported that Quibi may average 2 million paying subscribers by April 2021, based on current growth. 

Yahoo Finance notes that Quibi’s slower subscriber growth may also point to saturation in the streaming market, “The ‘streaming wars’ have given birth to a massive spending bubble in which content creators, studios and big tech companies are frantically throwing money at streaming ventures in a race to keep up with Netflix.” However, it’s also true that Quibi paused marketing efforts in June during the racial justice protests and has undergone some internal shifts, which may have impacted subscriber growth. As the brand moves forward and the country opens up, Quibi may surprise prognosticators with a surge in memberships, particularly considering the stable of A-list stars, original programming and tiered affordable plans the streaming service offers.

As Disney+ Prepares To Premiere Hamilton, The Family Friendly Streaming Service Posts Big Numbers

Shutterstock_1272496885 Barcelona, Spain. Jan 2019: Man holds a remote control With the new Disney+ screen on TV. Disney+ is an online video streaming subscription service.Illustrative

Disney+ launched with a significant advantage over some of the other streaming services a massive amount of content. At the time of its launch in November, Disney+ had 500 movies and 7,500 TV shows, including heavy hitters like Star Wars, Marvel and all the classic Disney and Pixar movies kids watch over and over again. Throw Baby Yoda in the mix, and Disney+ has been very successful with families, putting up subscriber numbers of more than 54 million, up from about 28 million in March. Disney+ has been so satisfied with subscription acquisition that they’ve stopped offering a free trial period. 

In a statement explaining the change to their subscriber marketing, Disney said, “We continue to test and evaluate different marketing, offers and promotions to grow Disney+. The service was set at an attractive price-to-value proposition that we believe delivers a compelling entertainment offering on its own.” The move also comes ahead of the premier of Broadway sensation Hamilton on Disney+, which is expected to bring in a new cohort of subscribers. 

Managing Churn As The Economy Reopens And Trial Periods Run Out Will Require Innovative Subscription Marketing

The rise in some streaming subscriptions over the last several months is certainly the result of many people stuck at home looking for entertainment. Managing churn once people return to work or trials run out will require streaming brands to differentiate their services. This could include programming, pricing or innovative subscription marketing that entices subscribers to continue their subscriptions or sign up again. In addition, there could be a lag in new programming because of the pandemic, which means that streaming services that relied on continued subscriptions from fans loyal to certain shows will have to be more imaginative in the new normal in order to scale subscriber acquisition and retention.

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Digital Media Solutions® (DMS) leverages shifts in consumer purchasing patterns to help clients create, launch and optimize recurring revenue subscription programs with CPA-based, multi-channel digital media campaigns optimized to achieve LTV objectives.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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