War on streaming services

As we pave the way to a new decade, the brewing battle between streaming services continues, but which one will win our hearts – and our money?

There is no doubt that UK homes are cutting the cord on live TV and turning to streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

A recent study by Ofcom reports that traditional live television station viewing figures are declining, and the number of UK households signed up to streaming services has risen from 11.2 million in 2018 to 13.3 million in 2019 with that number expected to rise.

Currently, Netflix is the UK’S most popular streaming services, with 11.47 million subscribers.

The streaming service not only offers classic TV shows such as Friends and Gossip Girl but has also created some of the most popular online series such as House of Cards and The Crown.

But as other services such as Amazon Prime, Apple TV, Brit Box, and Disney + up their game, is the future of Netflix at risk?

Mujeb Ahmaszay, TV production intern at the University of Westminster, doesn’t seem to think so.

“Netflix is still king of the hill. Original series such as Stanger Things have got people hooked,” he says.

During the first four days of its release, it was recorded that 40 million households watched the sci-fi hit.

“I would even say that now the majority of people who watch Netflix, watch it for the originals. I know I do.” Says Ahmaszay.

And Ahmaszay isn’t wrong. In a study conducted of 30 people, 66% of the users said that Netflix is their most-used streaming service. 

One user said that, “The one thing that makes Netflix different is the Netflix Originals which have generally been pretty good.”

However, Ahmaszay did mention that he thinks Disney + and Apple TV are possible contenders to take the throne away from Netflix.

“They (Disney + and Apple TV) have got the money coming from other resources to stay alive.” He says.

Ahmaszay believes that Disney+ is attractive to users because it offers classic shows and also surprise continuations such as the reboot of Lizzie McGuire, which had fans going crazy.

Adam Lamberg set to return to the reboot of Lizzie McGuire 

The service will also ramp up a level by creating original shows based on movies. Star Wars spinoff, The Mandalorian already has one character taking over the internet thanks to its resemblance to a baby Yoda. Alongside that is a whole host of Marvel original shows which will take place in the same universe as the popular movies.

And then there’s Apple TV.

“I think (Apple TV) is the dark horse of them all. They are playing the game by creating originals with big names like Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carrell,” says Ahmaszay.

Aniston and Carrell both star in The Morning Show which is a drama series inspired by journalist Brian Stelter’s book, Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV. Reese Witherspoon is also set to star in the show.

One of the other big names that Apple TV dropped was Steven Spielberg. Andrew Wallenstein, co-editor-in-chief at Variety, said that, “it felt like Apple was using him to say, ‘Hey, we are all about the best craftsmanship when it comes to storytelling,” in a video discussion with his colleague Michael Schneider in Cupertino, California.

The American filmmaker is set to produce a couple of shows including, Amazing Series, which is an anthology series based on a 1985 Spielberg TV series of the same name.

Apple TV has also announced that Oprah Winfrey will star in two documentaries and will host a series called, Oprah’s Book Club.

But something that Apple TV, Disney +, and Netflix don’t have is streaming of the Premier League – that point goes to Amazon Prime.

The streaming service has recently agreed a three year, 20-games-a-season contract including every game on Boxing day and the day after.

This is a big move from Prime as this is the first time in the UK that Premier League games won’t be on traditional TV.

Commentators, pundits, and presenters for the stream will include notable ex-players such as Alan Shearer, Jermaine Jenas, and Thierry Henry.

“It is a pretty tactical way to get viewers, especially at Christmas. Not only can people watch football, but they can also order packages for free,” says Ahamazaljk.

 In addition to having Premier League football, Amazon Prime also offers blockbuster classics such as Love Actually and Hot Fuzz.

The service has also just released the documentary, Andy Murray Resurfacing, which follows the former world no. 1 as he battles his way back into tennis after suffering from a chronic hip injury.

One Twitter user wrote, “My respect and admiration for this guy (Murray) has just gone through the roof! Unbelievable. What an inspiration.”

And lastly, there is BritBox– BBC and ITV’s shield against other competitors.

The UK based service, which launched on November 7th2019, has the largest collection of British TV, including content from Channel 5 and Channel 4.

This means that British TV that is currently on other platforms such as Netflix will be moved to their service over time. Shows such as Gavin and Stacy and Love Island have already been transferred.

The service will include shows such as Downton Abbey and Only Fools and Horses, while also focusing on creating new, original content of their own.

So as old streaming services step up their game and new ones evolve, will Netflix still be popular in 10 years’ time?

When we asked users, 43% thought that Netflix would still dominate and 20% thought that Disney + would.

One user said, “I think Disney will buy off or take over the others and they will become the powerhouse”.

14% of users said that they think a new entrant will take over.

“It’s hard to say because a new streaming service might be released within the next few years that outshines the others because it offers something different, as is the common occurrence ever few years,” noted another respondent.

So, as the streaming services change the TV world as we know it, which service will we choose?



Words by: Ashleigh Swan 

Pictures by: Ashleigh Swan/Unsplash 

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