Every week, Front Rush reviews recent tech news, offering analysis and banter about changes in tech. This week features Josh DiCristo, Software Developer and Ken Whittaker, Director of Engineering, at Front Rush.
Ken: Hi Josh, thanks for stepping in again this week.
Josh: I just can’t stay away.
Ken: Alright, so this week we learned quite a bit about some deals and whatnot surrounding Netflix and Disney – a different change of pace from Amazon who seems to have been in the news quite a bit this summer.
Josh: Yeah! So Disney announced that they would be throwing their hat into the streaming market by starting their own streaming service in 2019, once their current Netflix deal is up. This is a big deal for anyone who wants to watch their favorite classic Disney movies on Netflix, but also, Disney owns ABC, ESPN, Marvel, and Star Wars among other film studios. So this is potentially a huge split.
Ken: The whole thing is very interesting to me. By announcing it so early, it isn’t exactly a surprise to Netflix – who we know is one of the biggest players in the streaming game. But as you mentioned, ABC, ESPN, Marvel, Star Wars – to name a few – aren’t exactly just random companies. They are responsible for billions of dollars per year in creating the original content we have all come to love. Though not necessarily a surprise in the traditional sense, it’s not like Netflix can just whip up their own franchises in within 2 years to directly compete with Disney – right?
Josh: As far as film franchises go, no. They’ve produced some great original movies but haven’t had any luck really getting them off the ground. With original series’, I think the biggest issue is going to be what happens with the Netflix-exclusive Marvel shows. Shows like Daredevil and Jessica Jones are huge hits for the streaming service – are they going to lose subscribers if they move over to a Disney service?
Already picking side in this fight is Shonda Rhimes, who’s created Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away with Murder for ABC, just to name a few. They’re huge hits for the network and even bigger* hits on Netflix. She just signed a deal with Netflix to develop original shows after her ABC deal is up.
*Netflix does not release numbers, that is a complete guess on my part
Ken: Yeah, there’s definitely a sticky dynamic here – it’s hard to have a partnership that fundamentally competes with the bottom line of each company. While the two major companies try to hash things out, the way they each handle the user experience and transition will be key. I don’t think people necessarily care where they stream something from, as long as it’s affordable and provides a good viewing experience. Perhaps in some ideal scenario, there could be a new agreement in place where the two continue to act as partners. In this way, Netflix wouldn’t need to worry about replacing irreplaceable content and Disney wouldn’t need to reinvent the wheel in terms of launching a successful streaming platform. However, we’re talking about billions of dollars here – so I’m not sure it’s as simple as drawing a line and splitting things up.
Josh: At the very least I hope Disney’s streaming user experience is up to par with Netflix. Honestly I think Amazon Prime has better movies than Netflix does but I always find myself going to Netflix just because I like their UI more. But I wouldn’t count on any “friendly” competition between the two.
To me the biggest question is how many services are users going to sign up for? I know that just between HBO Go, Netflix, and Amazon, I really only go to HBO and Netflix because three is just a lot to keep in mind. Do you think people will really add another login to their list?
Ken: Probably not. I guess it also depends on how often you go to a platform – and for what type of content. The other part about Netflix that has always made me curious is that as a subscription based company, they release full seasons of their original shows at once. I think the hope is that with enough new content, people won’t feel the need to unsubscribe or take a break, but if people have to shell out additional money to Disney to be able to get what they used to pay for – the frequency might become more of a concern. Devices like the Apple TV make it easier to manage multiple logins because of the “Single sign-on” feature, but your point is still valid.
Josh: That’s a good point about the subscriber model when you release all of your content at once. Because I know people who will only get HBO for a month or so while Game of Thrones is on but I don’t know of anyone who does the same with Netflix. So if Disney is just starting out with this, they may not want to dump whole seasons of original programming online at once. But if all of the Marvel shows were released with one-time releases and they change that model, I think that’s going to anger people.
Josh: Anytime! Thanks for having me.