Hi Quartz Members,
The day that most media conglomerates knew it was coming has arrived. For the first time in US history, streaming is now bigger than cable TV.
This revelation came out of a Nielsen report released this week, which showed U.S. streaming viewership surpassed both broadcast and cable in July. What is even more surprising is that the average of 190.9 billion minutes of streaming watched per week last month in the United States is much higher than the figures accumulated during the Covid-19 blockages, when the number of highest viewership reached 169.9 billion minutes.
The gradual shift of home entertainment from broadcast and cable will now accelerate even more as the fight for audiences intensifies. For example, there are surprising new entrants. Walmart’s new $13-a-month shopping and delivery service, Walmart+, is designed to compete with Amazon Prime – and like Amazon Prime, it will not only include faster shipping, but also video streaming, courtesy of a deal with Paramount+. Walmart previously had its own video service, Vudu, but made the ill-timed decision to sell it at Fandango in early 2020, just before the pandemic boosted streaming viewership.
Meanwhile, Netflix finally lost its position as the most subscribed streaming service, after Disney revealed it had amassed 221 million subscribers across its various platforms, including Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+. The next shoe to release will be the launch of a streaming platform that will combine HBO Max and Warner Bros. Discovery+ services. under a new unified brand in 2023with the goal of reaching 130 million subscribers by 2025.
The white heat of these streaming wars is fanned by several factors. We have become addicted to our platforms during the pandemic – a sign for businesses that there is stable money to be made here. (Snap, seeing its advertising decline amid fears of a recession, doubles down on Snap Originals.) inflation, when people look at what they spend.
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As competition intensifies, the world of subscription streaming is forced to look for new ways to grow. Some companies are turning to ad-supported tiers of service, offered at lower prices for those who can stomach a marketing smear instead of the familiar, ad-free experience.
Disney+ plans to roll out its ad-supported service on December 8. Netflix, including CEO Reed Hastings once sworn to never show ads, will launch its version in early 2023. Hulu started in 2008 as a free, ad-supported streaming service; this added levels paid in 2015.
At some point, we’ll want to watch so many things on so many different platforms that subscribing to them all, even at reduced fees and ad-supported, will be very expensive. Analysts expect the eventual emergence of streaming “super bundles,” which will allow viewers to combine various services across brands for one flat fee. But it’s still early in the streaming wars, so these bundles are still a few years away. Meanwhile, major streamers will continue to fight for market share, treating eyeballs as one data point among many. Advertising revenue will increasingly become another crucial measure.
JUST NOT CRICKET
The streaming business is global, so sometimes its evolution is determined by the most unexpected things.
Take cricket, for example, a sport enjoyed throughout the former British Empire. The longest form of cricket lasts five days, but the shortest lasts a few brisk and fierce hours. A tournament in the latter format, the Indian Premier League (IPL), has been wildly successful over the past decade and a half. On a per game basis, the IPL is the second most valuable sports league in the world, behind the National Football League. It helps that the IPL is played in India, a country of over a billion cricket fans – and a market that has streamers salivating.
When Disney announced that it had 221 million subscribers worldwide, it counted 50 millions who pay for Hotstar, Disney’s Indian platform. For years, Hotstar aired the IPL, but in June, he pulled out of the auction for the next round of streaming rights, saying the deal had become too rich for his liking. (Rights finally sold for $2.6 billion to Viacom18, a joint venture between Paramount Global and Reliance Industries.)
How many of the 50 million Hotstars will stop subscribing now that the IPL is no longer on the platform? It’s hard to say, but if Disney has fallen behind Netflix this time next year, it may be because of a sport that most Americans have barely heard of, let alone understood.
190.9 billion: Average minutes of video content streamed per week in the US
$20: Monthly price of the most expensive streaming service, Netflix Premium
35%: Share of viewers streaming, compared to 34% watching cable and 22% watching broadcast TV in July 2022
$90 million: The amount that Warner Bros. Discovery lost on its canceled direct-to-streaming bat girl film
221 million: Disney subscribers worldwide, beating Netflix to 220 million
A 🐔 THING
Among the companies least likely to have ventured into film (and there are plenty of them!) is Chicken Soup for the Soul, born out of the eponymous series by books to help. Over the years, chicken soup built slowly its entertainment business: a share in the streaming platform Crackle here, a purchase of the online video service popcornflix the. He grabbed movie and TV catalogs and a movie distributor, 1091 Pictures. In May, chicken soup bought red box, which sells and rents DVDs through its approximately 38,000 kiosks across the United States. What Chicken Soup wants with DVDs – a medium that seems more musty with each passing day of the streaming era – is hard to guess. But if Chicken Soup for the Soul has taught us anything, it’s that positive thinking can accomplish anything, maybe even a DVD renaissance.
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5 GREAT STORIES FROM ELSEWHERE
🎵 The audio meme. TikTok is a different kind of streaming giant, delivering shorter videos than the old Quibi, to more users – more than five times more, in fact – than Disney. One of TikTok’s signatures is the audio meme, the snippet of music, sound, or dialogue that other users place on their own videos. Why do we focus on it so much? A New York Times Review The article explores the history of the audio meme and the physiology of its unconscious appeal.
📰 How to kill a newspaper. In the mountains of Colorado, the Aspen Times began publishing in 1881. Over the decades, it patiently cataloged its town’s transition to a posh ski resort and then a stage for idea festivals. In Atlantic, Andrew Travers, the newspaper’s former editor, describes how its owner muzzled reporting on a Russian billionaire. It’s not just about silencing a single story; it is about the deliberate destruction of the news ethos and the co-opting of local newspapers into bigger and more macabre geopolitical games.
🚀 Patriot games. If a company wants to bid on a Pentagon contract — to repair planes or manufacture spare parts, for example — it must first know what the job will entail. For years, a family called the Poseys ran a business where they gathered unclassified technical information like manuals and spec lists to sell to budding Pentagon contractors. But like WIRED reveals, the Poseys soon found an easier way to obtain this material: through Freedom of Information Act requests. Were the Poseys radical proponents of transparency or were they leading opportunists?
💉 Polio, redux. In London and New York, authorities have found traces of the virus that causes polio, a disease from which the United States and the United Kingdom have been free for a decade or more. Why has this dormant disease reappeared? Part of the answer lies in declining childhood vaccination rates. Therefore, ProPublica says, “nationally and globally, there are signs that the pandemic has opened up new vulnerabilities to long-receding diseases.”
💰 In smoke. Two Andover graduates set up a crypto hedge fund in Singapore called Three Arrows Capital. During the pandemic, they are blooming, as investors with stimulus checks buy crypto. They bet on a particular form of bitcoin. They buy mansions and a yacht. And then, as New York Magazine exhibits in the gory details, geniuses are in trouble. Just another trillion dollar vaporization of 21st century markets.
Spend a gourmet weekend,
— Adario Strange, media and entertainment reporter, and Samanth Subramanian, senior economics and finance reporter
Additional contributions by Alex Citrin-Safadi