Who’s Thriving and Who’s Struggling: Annual Streaming Scorecard Part Three

Last year, the streaming industry underwent a significant transformation, shifting away from the frantic growth of previous years towards a more restrained financial approach.

The focus for streaming services has evolved, with profitability now taking precedence over explosive growth. These dynamics have led to endless consolidation talks and further shake-ups among the largest media companies in the world.

Throughout the first quarter of 2024, FilmTake explores the challenges and opportunities facing the leading streamers.

Part One covered Apple TV+ and its expanding film slate.

Part Two addressed Disney-owned services Disney+ and Hulu, and the deterioration of its IP hit machine.

Part Three is about the two outside behemoths, Netflix and Amazon, which supplanted Hollywood as the audiences’ go-to source for films and shows.

Streaming Giants Netflix and Amazon Reverse Course on Film Ambitions

Before unprecedented disruptions during 2020-21, streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon invested heavily in original films, but their investments have since fallen sharply. Management changes at Amazon Studios and the 2022 acquisition of MGM for $8.5 billion could revitalize its theatrical ambitions.

Likewise, after Netflix failed to deliver any meaningful film releases, the head of its motion picture department departed after seven years. Outside of a handful of popular original shows, Netflix hasn’t delivered an original hit film in the last decade. Wisely, Netflix has reversed course and signed massive deals with Disney, Sony, and Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) to bring the most prestigious film and television catalogs back into the fold.

After Netflix delivered impressive financial results, its co-CEO announced on a conference call that the streamer plans to pursue third-party licensing more aggressively. This plan is a stark departure from Netflix’s hyper-focus on producing original programming that peaked in 2019 and 2020.

Netflix’s film strategy will revert to shorter theatrical release windows as a promotional tool and a contrivance to receive awards consideration. Netflix seems to be abandoning plans to release theatrical hits for good. Independent theatrical distributors will inevitably suffer as Netflix shifts away from original films, preferring to license and distribute hot festival projects.

Streaming Services Lead Oscar Nominations 

Major non-studio streaming services (Amazon, Apple, and Netflix) received 37 Oscar nominations. Netflix led all studios and streamers with 19 nominations across 11 films but only won a single Oscar in the short live-action film category.

Apple received the second most nominations, with 13, including 10 for Martin Scorsese’s latest film, but failed to walk away a winner.

Amazon’s MGM via Orion Pictures garnered five nominations for the same film and won the adapted screenplay category.

Netflix Subscribers Continue to Surge Despite Original Content Slump

Netflix added 13.1 million global subscribers in the last quarter of 2023. However, after years of focusing on producing original content, Netflix will prioritize third-party content licensing again. While Netflix expects content from major studios in what it calls “the natural state of the business,” the company silos its content solely for its 260 million subscribers, the largest global SVOD subscriber base.

Luckily, the industry’s most prominent content distributors have grown wary of hoarding content exclusively for their direct-to-consumer streaming services. These content distributors will gladly license films and shows to their rivals to increase revenue streams, especially to Netflix, which pays top dollar.

Uncover What Streamers Like Netflix Pay to License Third-Party Films and Shows Worldwide with Distribution Intelligence from FilmTake.

Worldwide Film & Television Distribution Intelligence

Get unparalleled access to market intelligence reports that draw on financial data and insights from dozens of content distribution deals worldwide between key industry participants.

Film and Series distribution rates and terms deriving from dozens of agreements for rights to transmit films and episodic television via PayTV and SVOD.

Choose flexible options for single-user PDF downloads.

Licensing Terms & Included Programs:

Pay-1 & SVOD Rate Cards for Motion Pictures and Series Exhibited Worldwide in Multiple Availability Windows

  • Motion Pictures: Pay-1, First Run, Second Window Features, Recent Library Features (Tiers AAA,A,B,C), Library Features (Tiers AAA,A,B,C), Current and Premium Made-For-TV Films and Direct-To-Video Films, covering many license periods over the last decade
  • Episodic TV: Current, Premium, Premium Catalog (1HR & 1/2HR), Catalog Series (1HR & 1/2HR), and Catalog Miniseries + Case Studies on Current Mega Hit, Catalog Mega Hit, and Premium Catalog, covering many licensing terms from 2012-2024
  • Because most-favored-nation rates operate in practice, the rates and terms apply to a diverse range of content and distributors worldwide in multiple availability windows.

Amazon and Netflix Open Advertising Floodgates

Unlike subscription giants Peacock and Paramount+, which have long embraced advertising given their legacy advertising business model, Amazon and Netflix are just starting down this path.

Netflix’s ad-supported tier has seen a nearly 70% increase in membership quarter-over-quarter, accounting for about 30% of all new sign-ups.

Prime Video is the latest streaming service to embrace advertising, which is set to deliver 115 million monthly subscribers to corporations’ marketing departments. Studio players can be forgiven for aggressively implementing advertising on their streaming service because they are trying to replace lost revenue elsewhere in their business model.

Despite being perceived as less prestigious and disruptive to the viewing experience, there is more money in ad-supported than ad-free. The ARPU (average revenue per user) for SVOD services compared to AVOD services was approximately the same a year ago, but the tables are turning. Netflix expects its ARPU for its new AVOD service in the U.S. and Canada to generate $17.50 per month compared to SVOD at $16.75.

However, Amazon, and especially Netflix, are throwing away arguably their most valuable saving grace as a refuge from a deluge of ads on other services and traditional television. Instead of differentiating from its competitors, Netflix and Amazon are joining an ever-crowded marketplace of ad-supported services.

Freevee Will Shutdown After Amazon Denies Claims

Just five hours after Amazon adamantly denied claims that it was shutting down its stand-alone ad-supported service Freevee (rebranded from IMDb TV in April 2022) after introducing ads to its Prime Video subscribers, news leaked from inside the company that Freevee will indeed be shuttered early in 2024.

FilmTake Away: Amazon and Netflix Divergent Approaches

Amazon is eyeing a significant investment in a company holding local broadcast rights for numerous sports teams. This move signals Amazon’s ambition to bolster its sports streaming offerings and challenge industry sports giants ESPN (Disney) and CBS (Paramount).

MGM has yet to set the world on fire after being acquired by Amazon, but this year will reveal the direction the former great studio will embark upon.

Given Netflix’s insurmountable global subscriber base, competing content distributors are again lining up to license their shows and films to Netflix, where even moderately successful viewership numbers will surpass those of most rival streaming platforms.