Netflix is an Alternative to Both Indie and Major Studios
As previously mentioned, the Disney acquisition of Fox has led to further concerns over the growing media monopoly in American and international entertainment. The futures of the old-school studios have been questioned heavily lately, particularly with falling profits for stalwart institutions like Paramount. Overall, it is assumed that studios like Disney will make fewer movies every year since there is less competition, and less money will be allocated for smaller films or riskier ventures that don’t have mass appeal. This also leaves indie studios in a tough quandary, as companies like Annapurna Pictures face an array of negative headlines and queries over their finances. In addition, many creators have fears over a potential loss of creative control and it’s no wonder many are looking for an alternative to the traditional system.
Netflix has been criticized for the ways they seemingly buy up content only to unceremoniously dump it on their platform with little notice. Yet it’s also a worthwhile thing to note that they’re still buying up indie films, small-budget television shows and other such content that would otherwise never make it out of the studio system. Many indie films receive tiny limited releases that exclude the vast majority of audiences but Netflix is in millions of homes and offers the potential for greater reach in a way that most indies are deprived of. Not only that but they’re willing to invest in producing such works and giving them well-funded awards campaigns, as was the case for Mudbound.
The benefits are sound for bigger films and television series too, with an alternative to the traditional system allowing for greater scope, bigger budgets, and less panic over week-to-week ratings and box office or network and studio competition. There’s more television than ever but fears that fewer films will be made so Netflix can alleviate those concerns not only by investing in more content but having a massive and easily accessible platform for programming. Netflix has critical legitimacy, commercial clout and a willingness to invest in ways other studios and networks simply aren’t. It’s no wonder they’ve become the most viable alternative to the old ways of entertainment for viewers and creators alike.
How Netflix Will Compete With Disney’s Streaming Service
While Netflix is the undisputed streaming king right now, their most powerful competition will soon enter the ring. The Walt Disney Company, backed by their own multi-billion-dollar successes with properties like Marvel and Star Wars, will soon enter the streaming arena with their own exclusive platform. Disney's service will have approximately 7000 episodes of television and 500 movies. Along with their extensive back-catalog of work, the service will include original movies and television, such as a remake of Lady and the Tramp, the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, and two limited series focusing on the Marvel characters Loki and the Scarlet Witch. Operations are set to begin for the streaming service in 2019, and a report from analysts Morgan Stanley has already predicted that they will have over 23 million subscribers by 2024.
Netflix has easily been able to keep up with Amazon and Hulu’s streaming services but Disney could prove a real threat. Like Netflix, Disney has seemingly endless sources of revenue and that is already being spent to provide enticing original content. The sheer hook of Star Wars, Marvel and Disney properties could prove tough for even die-hard Netflix devotees to resist. Netflix currently have the upper hand by already being an established brand millions of people subscribe to – and they will undoubtedly be in part relying on users wanting to stick to what they know – but the battle won’t be so easy.
One area Netflix can always stay ahead of Disney is in its willingness to release R-rated content, something Disney has historically avoided and have already announced they will not be doing on their streaming service (R-rating products will instead be on Hulu, which they gained majority control of thanks to the Fox acquisition). Netflix is working to expand their family-friendly content but their real strength lies in more adult-oriented fare that’s unafraid to go beyond the boundaries imposed on traditional film by the MPAA. Disney is historically excellent at sticking to their niche and expanding it in the most creative and efficient ways, but they’re never going to expand beyond that. They’ll never make R-rated content or stand-up specials or works that could be seen in any way as controversial. They don’t need to but it can give Netflix the upper hand. Disney is for families but Netflix can be for everyone.