In 2020, most people have subscribed to at least one streaming service. Whether it is Netflix, Prime Video or another one, we are all trying to follow our favorite heroes and watch good movies from the comfort of our home on the best streaming service.
In this article, I decided to focus the main three streaming platforms : Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, because they are the most used worldwide. HBO would be fourth on the list, with 35 millions subscribers in more than 50 countries, partly thanks to the Game of Thrones phenomena.
Starting this article, I was sure that Netflix was always the best one, mainly because I started subscribing seven years ago, when it was almost the only choice. It was a service I could rely on, wherever I was in the world. Now, with so many new platforms and the ever changing catalogues, it is hard to decide which one to invest in.
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When it comes to the number of subscribers, Netflix is still at the top, with about 193 million subscribers worldwide. The Covid-19 was a big boost for all streaming services, and Netflix gained about 10 million subscribers in a few months. However, Amazon Prime Video is a strong competitor, always growing and gaining market share, with 150 million Amazon Prime subscribers worldwide. It is to be noted that not all subscribers are actually using Prime Video, and that most people subscribed for Amazon Prime, Prime Video being the cherry on top of the cake.
Disney+ was launched in 2019. It is still a young platform, yet it reached 60.5 million subscribers this summer, boosted by Covid-19 and the arrival of the Broadway show Hamilton. If it seems small compared to its two biggest competitors, for a platform only a year old, it says a lot about the potential growth. Plus, Disney is also the owner of Hulu, the ABC channel and of 80% of ESPN. Disney+ is only a fraction of Disney’s business and audience.
It is hard to put a number on Netflix’s library as it changes from country to country. Did you know that Ireland actually has the largest Netflix library in the world, with over 5500 titles as of April 2020. Worldwide, Netflix has about 13 900 titles availables, which is less than a few years ago. The difference can be explained by Netflix producing more and more original contents to attract new customers.
What about Prime Video ? Like Netflix, the library changes depending on where you are. When it comes to numbers, Amazon Prime has announced about 18 000 titles worldwide. Some people have criticized this number, arguing that it is counting each episode of a show as a title, and not the entire show itself. One major difference with Netflix is that some shows are available to rent, or to buy. Not every title you see is included with Prime Video.
Then come Disney and its amazing catalogue. It helps that Disney has been a house name for so long with the reputation of making good and accessible movies. To add insult to injury, Disney now owns Lucas Film, which includes all the Star Wars franchise, as well as Pixar’s movies, Marvel Studios and part of National Geographic. With those names gathered under one roof, Disney is proving to be, once again, a force to be reckoned with. The strong suit of Disney is the wide audience it gathers. From young kids to Star Wars fanatics, there is something for everyone. Still, Disney had some bad press when it was announced that the live-action Mulan would be available on the platform for about 30 euro.
Beyond the number of titles in one’s library, what can set apart the streaming services is their original content. If some are not so original, such as, for example, Next in Fashion on Netflix and Making the Cut on Prime, or concerts, as Taylor Swift for Netflix, or the Jonas Brothers with Amazon, others are one of a kind and are being recognized. Both platforms are also creating original contents specific to each country, making each library unique.
In 2020, Netflix set the record for the most nominations to the Emmy awards with 160 nominations over 48 productions. The shows with the most nominations count Cheers, The Crown, Hollywood, Ozark, Queer Eye, Stranger Things, Tiger King and Unorthodox. Netflix made the right move by spending most of its money on originals. I don’t know about you but, to me, The Good Place is one of the best and most original shows I have ever watched.
If Netflix is still the king of the streaming market and original contents, Prime is definitely fighting hard. In 2020, the Amazon service had 47 Emmy nominations, 20 of those held by The Marvelous Mrs Maisel, and 11 by Fleabag, even though The Man in the High Castle is the most popular Prime Original. If I had to choose one original, it would be the adaptation of Good Omens. Amazon Prime is producing more and more originals, spending billions on it, but still has some work to do to be up to Netflix.
As I said earlier, Disney+ could rely on the movies produced in the past. However, they are also creating originals. The most heard of would be The Mandolarian, thanks to its 15 Emmy nominations and the baby Yoda trend. Their library also includes a show with Fork from Toy Story, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, or High School Musical : The Musical : The Series, which, despite its name, is appreciated by the young audience. As Disney+ is a young platform, it will take a few years to be up to its competitors regarding the number of original content.
Are all those services worth the same? No, and this is what could help someone make a choice between those three giants.
It turns out that Netflix is the pricier one with a monthly subscription starting at €7.99 and up to €15.99 for four screens at the same time, the yearly total being €95.88 for the least expensive subscription.
The second one is Disney+, with a monthly subscription at €6.99 and yearly subscription at €69.99 instead of €83.88 if you choose to pay by month.
It makes Amazon Prime the cheapest and most cost efficient one at €49.00 per year, which includes quick deliveries, Prime Video, Prime Music, Prime Reading and Prime photo.
Do I still believe that Netflix is the best ? Well, yes. As pricey as it is, the wide range of the library plus the quality of the originals makes it my number one. Even though Amazon and Disney+ are taking away customers, Netflix stays the biggest streaming service, always coming up with new ideas, marketing strategies and original titles. For example, The Witcher was a big hit on Netflix. The second season is in production, and Netflix is also working on a live-action Assassin’s Creed TV show, appealing to the gamers demographic.
Nevertheless, if you are a big Amazon user, Prime is for you. I like Netflix’s originals, but I enjoy the Prime TV show library better. Regarding Disney+, I still have to try it. It appealed less to me, as I have watched over the years most of the movies, and I am not interested enough in the originals to commit.
As a journalist, and as a customer, I wondered all along if it was really worth it to release new streaming services. I loved how there was only Netflix for a while, and a show or movie was on it, or it wasn’t, but I did not have to search through multiple platforms to see where it would be released. Nowadays, there is Netflix, and Prime, and Disney, and HBO, and Apple TV, and Youtube Premium, and Quibi (for smartphones), and Hayu (reality TV only), and more. Even the CW channel is talking about creating its own platform, making it even harder for customers to choose what to buy.
Choosing has always meant renouncing, and it cannot be more true in this case. Many will stop watching a show before subscribing to yet another platform service. Is it then really profitable for the studios, production companies and other channels to cut off their customers because they want their part of the streaming cake ?
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