Netflix was basically the originator of the TV/Movie streaming service. Shows like The Office and Friends helped fuel subscriptions. As they started raking in the cash, other entertainment providers began to take notice. Why were they providing shows to Netflix so they could become rich?
And so it began, one by one, those who once made the TV shows Netflix once had, began to make their own streaming services. First ABC/FOX/NBC with Hulu, then CBS with CBS All Access, and then finally all hell broke lose. NBC decided having a third of Hulu wasn’t good enough and started Peacock, HBO started HBO Max, Discovery has Discovery+, and so on. Even Disney decided to start Disney+ despite already owning Hulu, because the only thing better than owning one streaming service, is owning two.
Meanwhile, these networks are pulling all their programing from Netflix to put on their own services. This leaves Netflix to fill the holes with their own original programing, and they’ve mostly done okay here with shows like Stranger Things, Dead to Me, and Unsolved Mysteries. And basically all these streaming services are going to be stuck in the same boat content wise: they cannot depend on buying content from others, they need to make their own.
So who is in the best position to create their own content? Actually, that’s probably not the correct question. We need to ask: Who’s in the best position to make content that’ll bring in subscribers? A streamer could make the best show ever, but if they can’t convince people to subscribe to watch it, it’s not going to matter.
Just for fun, let’s grade each service based on potential for original content:
Believe it or not, the dark horse candidate is Discovery+. They have the rights to not only one of the highest rated shows on cable, but one of the hottest shows period: 90 Day Fiancé. This show has been such a cash cow for Discovery that they’ve created more than one spinoff and expanded the length of the original. On top of that, they also have the entire catalog of Discovery ID shows to expand on. Murder shows are hot, and Discovery owns the motherload. Grade C.
Hulu is in a fairly good position as well. Unless Peacock goes belly-up fast, they are going to lose almost a third of their programming when their contract to carry NBC content expires, but they’ll still have all of FOX and ABC at their disposal, not to mention anything that Disney owns bet deems to provocative for Disney+. Grade C.
Peacock has Universal and NBC content to play with. They’ve already taken some advantage, with shows like the surprisingly good Saved By The Bell revisit as well as a new season of exNBC show AP Bio. There’s further room for growth. As soon as someone realizes that it’s Universal releasing those Minion movies and you could make TV show based on that all bets are off. Grade C+.
CBS All Access has become Paramount+ as they attempt to take advantage of parent company Viacom’s larger library of programing. They own MTV, Nickelodeon, Smithsonian, BET, and Comedy Central, in addition to CBS. Besides putting up a bunch of classic programing like Rocko’s Modern Life and Jersey Shore, they’re already taking advantage of some of those properties by having new programing like a Spongebob spinoff, a Beavis and Butt-head film, a Real World reunion, and new episodes of Frasier. Paramount+ is in a great position of feeding off of your nostalgia. Grade B.
HBO Max pulled a Wii U and made the most confusing branding decision when it was introduced. Besides the original HBO station, we had HBO Go, HBO Now, and HBO Max at the same time. Luckily they went about fixing this problem by dissolving the names Go and Now. HBO Max has the entire HBO, Warner Brothers, DC Comics, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, and CNN content creators at their disposal. They already have DC series on the service and more in the works. They have spinoffs of Game of Thrones, Looney Toons, Sesame Street, Adventure Time, Tom & Jerry, Conan O’Brien, Pretty Little Liars, Tiny Toon Adventures, and more in the works or already released. Oh, and by the way, Warner Bros. were the ones who did Harry Potter and the Matrix, imagine if they decided to make series based on those properties. They also have been releasing each of their big name movies, like Wonder Woman and Matrix 4, day and date as theatres this year. Grade A.
Now we come to the big one: Disney+. Star Wars? Marvel? The Simpsons? Every damn Disney and Pixar cartoon? There’s no doubt that when it comes to property ownership Disney is king. Shjows like The Mandalorian and WandaVision have been huge for them. They’re also much more affordably priced than HBO Max. There’s no doubt, Disney is in the best position here. Grade A+.
Then there’s Netflix. Sure they’ve had success with original programing like Orange is the New Black, Bojack Horseman, and Stranger Things. But two of those shows have ended and the other hasn’t had a new episode in almost 2 years. They can keep making episodes of some of their successful shows are somehow spinoff the stuff that has already ended like House of Cards. But is it enough to keep people subscribed even as they keep raising their prices? They’re spending a lot on developing new programing, not that they really have a choice at this point. Grade C+.
Okay, let’s be honest here; Netflix is probably not going to go bankrupt anytime soon. They are still the clear leader of the streaming service. But, if I had to put my money on it my best guess is Disney is in the best position here to succeed. HBOMax is currently my personal favorite streaming service, but their success totally depends on getting people to realize what it has to offer and that it’s worth it’s inflated pricetag (they have a ad supported cheaper tier coming out later this year, we’ll see if that helps).