Over a year and a half ago, I wrote an article about the impact Disney+ was going to have on the streaming market.
Of course, back then, I couldn’t foresee a global pandemic and the changing of the paradigm of the entertainment industry as one of its many consequences.
But something that boosted my self-esteem is that I predicted how everything was going to change drastically, and if Netflix didn’t change their strategy, they were damned to lose their crown as the kings of the streaming services.
Now, let’s take a look at the streaming market and how the frenetic changes over the past months are pushing Netflix over the edge.
How the streaming market has changed in a whole year
It wasn’t hard science to see that the launching of Disney+ in November 2019 was only the beginning of a series of significant changes in the streaming market.
What we couldn’t predict was that a global pandemic was going to change the rules of the entertainment industry as a whole, and streaming services were going to be the heroes and villains in an unprecedented context.
Even though some countries are returning to some kind of normal life, and movie theatres are opening again in selected markets, streaming has gained a preferential place in the entertainment industry.
As a consequence, the war we predicted inside a niche over a year and a half ago was much wider.
It was a war about content and who has it first. It was a battle between movie theatre chains and Hollywood Studios, between directors, producers, actors, actresses and CEOs, between the experience of enjoying a movie on the big screen or watching it in your pyjamas at home.
Where is Netflix standing in this whole picture?
Netflix gained a lot of new subscribers thanks to the global lockdown in 2020.
According to the UK’s The Guardian newspaper, Netflix gained 36 million new subscribers in 2020 (Source).
However, it lost a considerable amount of content due to the growing expansion of the new streaming services and worldwide COVID restrictions.
So, now people are getting bored of always having the same and less for bigger prices.
And this is only the peak of the iceberg.
Why Netflix is losing its crown
We can easily blame the newcomers to the party that somehow oversaturated an already saturated market.
However, while Netflix was too confident that they will remain as the king of the hills of the streaming market, their rivals like Disney+ and HBO Max were allying with different service providers to reach a wider audience offering savings on their subscriptions.
Although they’re developing original content all the time, several new series released on Netflix were cancelled out of the blue during their first season.
Insider counted 31 different series that ended after just one runout (Source), although some were pre-pandemic.
The audience is getting tired of this and losing interest in new content.
Also, the reluctance to offer annual subscription plans with discounts or making a flat rate that includes HD and 4K as Disney+ does.
OK, we know Netflix doesn’t have a big corporation like Disney or Warner behind, so they need the money coming from their subscribers not only to support their platform but also to keep producing new content.
But, as the saying goes… desperate times call for desperate measures.
What should they do to remain ahead?
Learning from their rivals could be a good starting point. I’m not talking about copying what others do, but seeing what’s working for them to gain new subscribers and adapting these strategies to their platform.
We live in a time where if you don’t adapt to the sudden and violent changes, you perish.
They attempted offering annual packages with big discounts as some kind of experiment in India. I think that a yearly subscription is handy for people beyond saving.
Maybe having a flat rate is difficult for a stand-alone company like Netflix, but they should look for a middle point between the quality, quantity, and price, to make it affordable.
Nowadays, most new Smart TVs, PC monitors, and other devices are 4k ready, so paying a higher price for a subscription that includes 4k content is getting old.
I want to believe that at this point, their marketing department knows how to manage the target of the movies and series they’re producing. So, cancelling projects after one season is not good at all.
I can give them the benefit of the doubt that sometimes a series they may think will be a hit ends up having poor numbers. However, the chronic cancellation is disrespectful to the audience that invests time in watching something that literally ends in nothing.
Is Netflix still worth the money?
If I have to answer this question based on my likes and preferences, I would say yes.
But, the truth is they’re losing content because Disney, Warner, and Paramount are claiming their productions to have them exclusively on their platforms.
With Amazon having bought MGM, soon, Netflix will depend only on their original movies and series. Will that be enough? Only time will tell.
What options users have in an oversaturated streaming market
As I always say when I recommend a service, whatever it is, it’s all about personal preferences and uses.
If you like what Netflix offers, and you don’t have any interest in what Disney+, Amazon, or HBO Max have on their libraries, then keep your Netflix subscription.
But the problem is when you like a wide range of things, and you feel the need to subscribe to everything available.
You can try to subscribe to annual packages, so you make the investment once, and then you forget to pay month after month, also avoiding any increase in the prices.
Or you can go with monthly subscriptions and choose month by month which streaming service you pay. After all, one of the perks of the streaming world is you aren’t tied to a contract as happens with cable TV.
Let’s be honest in one thing: we don’t have time to watch every movie and series available on every streaming service. Paying multiple subscriptions is like hoarding content just in case we have some free time to watch a movie or a series now and then.
Why is a VPN more important now than ever?
A VPN is an app used to protect our privacy online but lately has become hugely popular among streaming users.
Why? Because a VPN protects your privacy by connecting you to servers located in different countries. And this is what allows you to access streaming services blocked in your country because of geo-restrictions.
Besides protecting your online activity, which is the most important task, a VPN is handy to make the most of your Netflix, Disney+, Amazon accounts by accessing their different libraries around the globe.
Also, with a VPN like our #1 recommended ExpressVPN, you don’t need to subscribe to any paid streaming service because there are several free platforms with a lot of content like BBC iPlayer, just to name one.
For this reason, a VPN is a great ally in this oversaturated streaming market. You invest in one service, the VPN, and then you can see which platform you subscribe to or not.
Regarding Netflix, a VPN is the ultimate tool because the countries where the new wave of services hasn’t arrived yet, still have a lot of content that is missing in more mainstream markets.
After a year and a half of Disney+ launching and a global pandemic in the middle, the rules of the game for the streaming services have changed a lot.
Netflix’s crown is trembling, and if they don’t change some of their strategies, they will lose it to any of the big corporations eating each other out there.
As for us, the users, we have several options now, which is good and bad, but we don’t have enough money to afford them all.
Thankfully, we still have a bunch of solutions at hand, such as rotating our monthly subscriptions or getting a VPN to get access to more content by paying less.
In the meantime, let’s grab some popcorn to see how the game of thrones of the streaming services ends!