As the streaming wars heat up, Avengers: Endgame co-director Joe Russo say that the race to watch is between established champion Netflix, and new contender Disney+. Following Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox, the company now owns a massive percentage of the entertainment market. But while Disney is far ahead of the competition at the box office, it will have to play catch-up when it comes to streaming.
Originating as a mail-order DVD rental service, Netflix made the move to streaming in 2007, at around the same time that other services like Hulu and Amazon Prime Video were established. In the decade-plus since then, however, Netflix has been aggressive in its growth - not only expanding to near-worldwide availability, but also spending billions of dollars on original content in an effort to build a library made up of more original content than licensed content. Though this expansion has built up a staggering amount of debt for Netflix, it's also made it the undisputed king of streaming, with 148 million subscriptions worldwide.
Looking ahead, however, the Russos believe that Disney is going to give Netflix a run for its money. Speaking at the 2019 Milken Global Conference (per Variety), Joe Russo said that, "The closest race to watch is Disney versus Netflix," explaining that, "Netflix is at volume, and they have to get their volume to quality. Disney is at quality, and they’ve got to get volume." The Russo brothers themselves are developing a TV series for another streaming competitor, Amazon Prime, though details currently remain scarce.
Disney officially unveiled details about Disney+ in April, including its competitive price point of $6.99 a month, its planned launch date of November 12, 2019, and a slate of both archived and original content that will be available within the first two years of launch. This lineup includes Marvel Cinematic Universe spinoff series like Loki, WandaVision, and Falcon & Winter Soldier, as well as Star Wars shows like The Mandalorian and original movies, including a live-action Lady and the Tramp.
However, as Joe Russo mentioned, Disney+ has some catching up to do in terms of content. Netflix has more than 5000 titles available in its U.S. catalog, including hundreds of original titles. That being said, Netflix has been called out for the mixed quality of its originals, and also for failing to properly promote many of them. Disney also already has a foothold in the streaming market, as the company owns a controlling share of Hulu (and may soon be the sole owner).
While there have been some concerns that the easy availability of movies and TV shows at home could harm the box office, Avengers: Endgame's $1.2 billion opening weekend doesn't support that fear. "Some say the death knell for theatrical is streaming," Russo said, "But [Endgame] is proof that they are supercharging each other."