In a recent Zoom interview, a reader pushed back on the “post-streaming wars” sales hook of PARQOR, arguing instead that we’re in the second chapter of “the streaming wars”.
I told him that I didn’t think the perspective is wrong, I simply disagreed with it: I always believed it was difficult if not impossible for legacy media streaming services to replicate Netflix’s technology, scale and product-channel fit. Only Disney has come closest (and, no, it does not have 221MM subscribers as it is triple-counting its Disney+ bundle subscribers).
If there is a competition with winners and losers in streaming, it is something I have labeled the “genre wars”. These are more like focused conflicts around specific content genres than broader head-to-head conflicts between platforms for the same audience (here is a “genre wars” essay from last March on the Substack archive). For example, Starz has found success in focusing on genres targeted to female and black audiences, while AMC Networks has found success with a suite of apps that included horror-focused Shudder.
On the one hand, his point is fair: the “streaming wars” is a relatively recent term and most audiences reading about it are still on a learning curve. So I’ll be the first to admit that claiming there is a foreseeable, near-term end to the “streaming wars” may seem a head-scratcher to most.
On the other hand, I believe we are witnessing the moment that “the streaming wars” label truly no longer applies to this marketplace.
I wonder if the label “Jurassic Park” may be more appropriate. Because this isn’t about streaming services winning or losing, this is more about (1) the survival of media companies (the “dinosaurs”) as their key sources of revenue (linear, theatrical) are drying up, and (2) the impact on the ecosystem when those “dinosaurs” go from predictable to unpredictable actors.
Survival is the theme of the “Jurassic Park” movies: how will dinosaurs survive if they have been engineered not to reproduce, and how will the idealistic human visitors survive when pitted against those genetically engineered dinosaurs?
Witnessing the dynamic streaming wars, we’ ...