Why Netflix and Hulu Will Soon Look Completely Different
Netflix and Hulu have become an essential part of how we watch television. Both services have become so big, we can sometimes assume they’ll always be around and continue looking like they do now.
But as the television industry continues undergoing dramatic changes, both Netflix and Hulu are about to fundamentally transform. Here are some of the ways your favorite streaming services will look a lot different going forward.
1. Disney will soon be pulling its content from Netflix
In 2019, Netflix will suddenly be losing the rights to dozens upon dozens of the most popular movies of the past few years. If you regularly use Netflix to catch up on non-Netflix films, you’re going to notice a difference in the library’s quality next year.
Why? Well, Disney currently has a deal with Netflix in which all of their recent movies end up streaming within a few months of release. That’s why you can currently watch Rogue One, Beauty and the Beast, Captain America: Civil War, Finding Dory, and more blockbusters on Netflix right now.
But in 2019, that deal ends, and then Disney is pulling its entire library. This won’t just include new releases but will also include older titles like National Treasure, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Mulan, and much more.
2. Netflix will also likely lose all of Fox’s content, plus other shows
That’s not all of the content that’s going to be leaving Netflix in the future. The streaming service will likely be losing most, if not all, of 20th Century Fox’s content. That’s in part because Disney recently acquired Fox’s film and TV studios, and it clearly has no interest in housing any of their content on Netflix going forward.
This was already starting to happen even before the Fox sale to Disney, though. Over the past few months, a steady stream of Fox-owned shows have been leaving Netflix and heading to Hulu, including The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, How I Met Your Mother, Futurama, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Hulu was the natural home since Fox has a 30 percent stake in it. Going forward, expect most of the rest of Fox’s library, like Family Guy and New Girl, to follow suit.
In fact, name a popular show that’s on Netflix, and if Netflix doesn’t produce it, there’s a solid chance it’ll be leaving within the next few years. Like streaming The Office on Netflix? Don’t get used to it, as NBC’s parent company, Comcast, has a stake in Hulu and might want to move the show over there when the current contract is up.
Studios are increasingly seeing the value in having their content on their own service rather than giving it over to Netflix. So once all of these individual streaming contracts expire, expect Netflix’s library of non-Netflix TV shows to be significantly emptier.
3. Disney is launching its own streaming service, which will cost less than Netflix
The main reason all of the Disney movies (and likely the Fox movies) are leaving Netflix is that they’ll soon have a new home. Disney plans to launch its own streaming service, which will directly compete with Netflix, in 2019.
Disney has been acquiring studios left and right over the past decade, and it’s all been leading up to this moment, as its streaming platform’s library is going to be absolutely extraordinary. In addition to the content originally produced by Disney, it will have every Star Wars film, every Marvel and Pixar movie, plus Fox’s entire library of movies like Avatar, Planet of the Apes, Die Hard, and much more.
Very quickly, Disney’s streaming service is going to have a better library of movies than Netflix, and for less money. Disney hasn’t unveiled a price, but CEO Bob Iger says their service will cost “substantially” less than Netflix.
4. Going forward, Netflix will consist mainly of original content
Netflix always knew this day would come. Back in 2013, CEO Ted Sarandos stated very plainly that their goal was to “become HBO faster than HBO can become us.” What he meant was that he saw Netflix as increasingly relying on its own original content going forward. With HBO, the main draw isn’t its library of movies. The majority of subscribers are there for the original content like Game of Thrones, with the movie library being secondary to that.
With Netflix, it used to be that you subscribed because it’s a great hub on which to stream movies and shows made by a variety of studios. But Sarandos foresaw that studios would only be willing to license their content to Netflix for so long, eventually wanting their content housed on their own streaming services (or on services that they have a stake in). Netflix, therefore, began preparing for an eventual exodus of content by bulking up on original shows that they control the rights to.
Now, Netflix is betting that even if shows, like Lost and Futurama, continue leaving left and right, subscribers won’t flee, as this would mean missing the next season of Stranger Things or A Series of Unfortunate Events. In fact, Netflix’s CFO has explicitly said that their goal is for 50% of their library to consist of original content by the end of 2018. That number will likely continue the grow after that.
5. Hulu will likely look a lot different in a few years, too
Hulu will be undergoing some dramatic changes over the next few years as well, and once again, it’s because of Disney. It used to be that Disney had a 30 percent stake in Hulu, the same as Fox. But after Disney’s purchase of Fox goes through, they will have a majority stake, 60 percent.
Hulu already has a lot of Disney and Fox content, including shows like Lost and The X-Files. But the service will likely be getting even more of it in the future. In fact, Iger said after that the Fox deal will allow Disney to put “more content in Hulu’s direction.”
A lot of the details are still unclear, but it’s possible that Hulu will become the home of the more adult-skewed Disney content, whereas the Disney streaming service will house movies that better fit under the Disney brand, like Star Wars and Home Alone. Disney could also attempt to buy out Comcast and Time Warner, both of whom have a stake in Hulu. This would give it complete ownership of Hulu, and the company could turn it into their own streaming service rather than launching a brand new one and having to build up a base of subscribers from scratch.
Another scenario analyst Rich Greenfield proposes is that Comcast will make any of Disney’s proposed changes to Hulu very difficult, resulting in Disney just selling their stake in Hulu and focusing on their own service.
In any of those scenarios, Hulu is likely going to lose content; it’s just a matter of if it’s Disney’s or if it’s Comcast’s (NBC’s).
6. Netflix will likely continue increasing its price
As all of these streaming services continue to change, don’t expect to keep paying the same price for them forever. Netflix, in particular, announced a price increase in late 2017, leading to a lot of frustration among subscribers.
But that’s unlikely to be the last increase. In 2018, Netflix is planning to spend an extraordinary $8 billion on original programming. If the streamer continue to spend this much money on content, it’s going to have no choice but to continue raising prices.
In a few years, it would not be surprising to see Netflix’s price come closer to that of HBO Now, which costs $15 per month.
7. The future of streaming will look a lot like cable TV
The appeal of streaming used to be that it was an alternative to the cable television model. Instead of paying $100 or more per month to get all the cable channels your provider offers, you could just subscribe to one service for $10 a month that had more content than you’d ever have time to watch.
But it’s increasingly becoming clear that streaming is going to morph into exactly what consumers disliked about cable TV all along, as it will soon become a requirement to subscribe to several different platforms to see everything. Want to see the latest season of Stranger Things? That’s $11 for Netflix. Need to stay caught up on Game of Thrones? That’s another $15 a month for HBO Now. To watch Sneaky Pete and The Man in the High Castle, you’ll need an Amazon Prime subscription, and that’s $99 a year. For Star Trek: Discovery, you’ll need CBS All Access for $6 a month. And it goes on and on.
Before you know it, you’re paying just as much as you did before you got rid of cable. That is, until it becomes possible to buy all these streaming services together in some sort of bundle, in which case we’ve come full circle and have simply returned to the cable TV model we were trying to escape all along.
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