– By Katherine Sanderson –
Netflix redefined how audiences consume content, and most importantly, how they receive it. Gone are the days where consumers would sit through commercials. It’s clear that cable and broadcast TV is on its way out and streaming sites are here to stay, and major studios are beginning to adapt. Instead of continuing to license their shows to OTT (over the top i.e. the delivery of film/tv over the internet) services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, many of the major studios have plans to launch their own.
The details have been quite cryptic, and the launch dates not specified, but it seems that the future of digital distribution will be specialized streaming sites from major content providers.
With the news that Disney acquisition of Fox has been approved, it seems that if Disney does indeed purchase the studio, their upcoming streaming site will be a major player in the OTT competition. With the addition of Fox’s library, including Fox Animation and specialty labels Fox Searchlight, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Not that Disney’s own properties, including Pixar, Disney Animation, Marvel and Star Wars, wouldn’t have been enough.
Disney announced in February that their upcoming service has a planned launch of Fall 2019, and will include no R-rated content (their R-rated content will continue to be put on Hulu, which they are still partial owner of). It is expected that the service will have approximately 7000 episodes of television and 500 feature films, with their original content expected to include four or five original movies and five TV shows with budgets anywhere from $25 million-$100 million.
Last year it was reported that Comcast/NBCUniversal was working on their own streaming service, mainly focused on NBC series. This would include NBC series like The Voice, This is Us, SNL, Law and Order: SVU, and more, as well as shows from their other networks such as Syfy, Bravo, and USA, such as Mr Robot, Suits, The Real Housewives, and Top Chef.
No word yet how Universal Pictures properties might play into this service. There is also the question of whether they will choose to stream live television, or simply offer content on demand. We can assume that this new service will be subscription-based, as NBC already offers a free app to watch their shows.
Since 2016, Warner Bros/Turner has offered a service called FilmStruck which includes TCM Classics and The Criterion Collection, and is available both domestically and internationally.
Warner Bros also recently announced that they will be launching a digital platform for their DC brand, and has been described as more than an OTT service, but a place where fans of both comics, films, and series can interact. Many of their animated DC series will be featured upon the launch of the service.
CBS has two main streaming services: Showtime Anytime and CBS All Access, which combined have over 5 million subscribers. They also announced last year that they are planning an Entertainment Tonight digital service, covering all things entertainment news, coming in the fall. They also just completed a deal with the NFL to stream NFL games through their CBS All Access platform.
Viacom has announced that their streaming service should launch by the end of 2018. The Viacom family includes TVLand, BET, Nickelodeon, MTV, and Paramount Pictures, which one can expect to be included on the OTT platform.
Digital distribution is fast-changing, and one should take note of the upcoming changes in the landscape. It’s been a great decade for cord cutters, who have in the past only paid for Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon (or any combination!) and have had access to films and series from all the major studios and networks. But in the future, it seems inevitable that we will have a more ‘a la carte’ model for choosing our OTT services, where we may need to have 4-8 different subscriptions. And as OTT services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon continue to create original content, there will be more reason to have all of them.
About the Author
Katherine Sanderson currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. Originally from Colorado, she graduated with a BA in English from Santa Clara University in 2014, and is an alumna of the JPCatholic MBA program (Class of 2016). Her professional aspirations are in children/family entertainment, especially animation.
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