Top 19 Media Trends of 2019: D.A.W.N. of a New Streaming Era

C3PO (Anthony Daniels), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in STAR WARS:  EPISODE IX.
Lucasfilm Ltd.

Disney. Apple. WarnerMedia. NBCUniversal.

This quartet’s streaming launches that began in late 2019 spell out the D.A.W.N. of a new era: U.S. companies are driving a big shift in where video entertainment will be accessible digitally.

Disney Plus had been announced long before 2019, but key details about it such as its content lineup and price became clear in April. Meanwhile, Apple, a yearslong subject of SVOD launch rumors, in March finally disclosed it would in the fall release an SVOD called Apple TV Plus. NBCUniversal’s Peacock and WarnerMedia’s HBO Max are expected to launch in April and May 2020, respectively.

Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max (WarnerMedia’s streamer), and Peacock (NBCU’s streamer) are entering a U.S. video streaming market that the first wave of streamers — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu — have long held a tight grip on.

On the content side, Warner Bros. TV in July secured the rights to “Friends” for $425 million, while NBCUniversal in June nabbed the rights to “The Office” for $500 million. These shows represent two of Netflix’s most beloved and reliable assets that helped fuel its success with subscribers. 

Hollywood has no precedent with this new breed of product, so there’s little sense of what’s going to happen next. But the SVOD spend pie is still expanding and SVOD stacking is increasing. So in 2020, it’s worth keeping in mind that one subscription gained by someone won’t always mean one subscription lost by someone else.  

This is one of a series, 19 Trends That Defined the Media Business in 2019.