2023 Streaming Wars: Who Will Have the Winning Hand?

In 2022, streaming services are upping their game with the launch of ad-supported tiers, new live sports deals and successful originals. As the ‘streaming wars’ rage on, media companies must raise the stakes to compete: HBO Max and Discovery+ just merged while Netflix offers password-sharing – these are only some of what SVOD (subscription video-on-demand) streaming services have in store for next year and beyond.

What HBO Max/Discovery+ is planning for 2023

In January 2021, Discovery and WarnerMedia merged to create Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), one of the largest media organizations in the US.

This spring, WBD will launch a merged streaming service combining HBO Max and Discovery+: subscribers will have access to nearly 200,000 hours of programming from over 100 brands such as CNN, TNT and Cartoon Network/Adult Swim. This includes HBO originals and Warner Bros films with Discovery+’s library of unscripted shows, documentaries and more.

Max, the new streaming platform from a major company, is set to join the battle for subscribers. Already in Q3 2022, HBO Max and Discovery+ have achieved 94.9 million global subscriptions between them – can Max take them further?

WBD is readying a free, ad-supported streaming (FAST) platform to stay competitive alongside services like Peacock, Pluto TV, Tubi and Amazon Freevee.

Recently, HBO Max removed over a dozen of its originals – including “Westworld,” “The Nevers,” and “Raised by Wolves” – that will soon move to third-party streaming services. Other titles include: “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “Love Life,” “Made for Love,” “Minx,” “Finding Magic Mike,” head of the class , FBOY Island , Legendary , Gordita Chronicles and The Garcias .

We anticipate WBD launching its FAST offering with these titles.

What Netflix is planning for 2023

In 2022, Netflix launched its $6.99/month ad-supported tier, offering consumers a cheaper streaming option and validating the industry trend of AVOD. Analyst Doug Anmuth predicts that in 2023 this “Basic with Ads” plan will have 7.5 million domestic subscribers.

Netflix’s Q3 2022 rebound saw 2.41 million new subscribers, bringing their total to 223.09 million after two previous quarters of decline (losing 1.2M globally).

The streamer is developing three projects for 2023 and beyond.

In 2023, Netflix will launch “Extra Members,” a monetization feature for password sharing. Account members can pay an extra fee to add a sub-account for those accessing the service.

We’ve launched two features to enhance user security: “Profile Transfer” enables members to move their profile from an existing account to a new one, while “Manage Access and Devices” lets owners log out of devices remotely.

Coming next year, streamer subscribers can look forward to livestreaming capability with Chris Rock as the initial tester for his upcoming comedy special. Live content may draw additional subscribers.

Netflix won’t be entering the live sports arena anytime soon. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos noted at the UBS Global TMT Conference, “We haven’t found a profitable way to do big sports yet.”

Netflix VP of Gaming Mike Verdu announced at TechGround Disrupt 2022 that the company is investing further in gaming, and plans to launch a cloud gaming offering. This move makes sense – the global cloud gaming market generated $1.6 billion in 2021 alone.

Netflix could be venturing into PC gaming, as it seeks to hire a game director who would oversee the launch of an AAA PC title.

Entering 2023, Netflix will have launched 50 mobile games, continuing to expand their gaming library.

What Disney+ is planning for 2023

In 2022, Disney+ underwent major alterations such as introducing an ad-supported option and Bob Iger’s unexpected comeback as CEO.

Disney+ launched its “Basic” plan at $7.99/month to attract more subscribers, aiming for an estimated 230-260 million by 2024. In the fourth quarter of 2022, Disney+ reported a total of 164.2 million global subscribers.

Disney+ Basic is unavailable on Roku devices, with an estimated agreement to change it sometime in late 2023. However, this is just a guess.

Disney+ recently unveiled a new subscription plan, and also made changes to the Disney Bundle and raised prices for its ad-free plan.

In November 2022, Bob Chapek stepped down as CEO of Disney and was replaced by the former CEO Bob Iger. Hopes are high that Iger can help the company become profitable by fiscal 2024, especially since Disney’s direct-to-consumer division lost $1.5 billion in Q4 2022 while Chapek was still at the helm.

Disney+ is set to expand its reach to over 160 countries by 2023, with the addition of 30 new international locations. This comes on the heels of a successful summer launch in 42 countries and 11 territories.

Starting in 2021, all new episodes of “Doctor Who” will only be available on Disney+.

Disney+ subscribers will soon be able to experience exclusive shopping with the online shop currently being tested. It offers merchandise from Disney-owned brands like Star Wars, Marvel, Animation Studios, and Pixar. Additionally, a membership program similar to Amazon Prime is reportedly also in the works – although there are no set launch dates yet.

What Hulu is planning for 2023

This year, Hulu experienced a few bumps in the road with price increases and losing titles to rival Peacock. But despite these setbacks, they still managed to reach a milestone of 58 Emmy nominations and start 2023 with 47.2 million subscribers!

Disney is expected to purchase Comcast’s 33% stake in Hulu by 2024, but former CEO Chapek suggested it could happen earlier. In a Variety interview, Chapek stated that the acquisition could be completed as soon as 2023 – if Comcast is willing to negotiate. Currently, Disney owns 66% of Hulu.

Disney may merge Hulu with Disney+ and ESPN+ once they purchase Comcast’s stake in the streaming platform. CEO Bob Chapek told Variety that this could mean less friction between apps, allowing subscribers to move from one to another more easily – called a “hard bundle” as opposed to “soft bundle”.

If the Disney Bundle were to include ESPN+ and Hulu, subscribers would be thrilled! This integration wouldn’t be as comprehensive as HBO Max and Discovery+, but it would still bring together 235.7 million users of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.

What Amazon Prime Video is planning for 2023

In 2022, Prime Video scored big with the launch of “Thursday Night Football” (15.3M viewers) and its hit spinoff series, “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” (over 100M viewers worldwide), which has been confirmed for a second season.

Amazon is heavily investing in content and will continue to do so for the coming years, evident by their live sports initiatives. Most notably, Amazon has secured exclusive rights for a first-ever NFL Black Friday game in 2023.

Amazon is reportedly considering an ambitious move: spending over $1 billion annually to produce 12-15 films that would debut in theaters before streaming on its service. This high-stakes gamble – a first for the company – could prove costly, but might also pay off huge.

The streaming service has multiple upcoming original series, such as the greenlit limited series “Blade Runner 2099”, a live-action adaptation of “God of War” and even a “Warhammer 40,000” with Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel”) in the lead role.

Warner Bros. Television Group Chairman Channing Dungey recently announced at the Content London conference that Amazon is close to finalizing a deal for animated DC series on Prime Video, which could be an important subscription driver for the streaming service.

We expect Amazon Prime Video to consider launching an ad-supported, lower-priced tier. Doing so could pay big dividends: it’s projected that Netflix will bring in $600 million in advertising revenue by 2023 alone.

Amazon is leveraging its existing ad-supported service, Freevee, and testing a new ad format called virtual product placement. This was announced in May as part of Amazon Prime Video.

What Apple TV+ is planning for 2023

Apple TV+ debuted its first foray into live sports this year and is likely to continue the trend in 2023.

Apple TV+ could be a major player in the streaming market if it offered an ad-supported tier. Currently, its subscription costs $6.99/month or $69/year, but with ads Apple TV+ could find success similar to Amazon’s.

What Paramount+ is planning for 2023

Paramount+ ended 2022 with 46 million global subscribers, largely thanks to its partnership with Walmart+ (16 million) and its availability on The Roku Channel and YouTube. November saw a record number of sign-ups when “Tulsa King,” starring Sylvester Stallone, premiered.

Paramount+ aims to hit 100 million subscribers by 2024 and raise streaming content expenditure from $2 billion in 2022 to $6 billion. Additionally, it plans to expand abroad with 150 global original titles by 2025.

The release of high-budget films like “Top Gun: Maverick” and Paramount+’s reliance on popular IP suggest the streamer will see substantial subscriber growth in 2023. To further attract viewers, Paramount+ recently added an in-app Showtime bundle for additional content.

A merger between Paramount+ and Showtime is likely, according to Bob Bakish, CEO of Paramount Global. At Goldman Sachs’ Communacopia + Technology Conference, Bakish revealed that internal talks have been taking place. Though a decision hasn’t yet been made, merging Showtime into Paramount+ would be the best move for the company.

Paramount+ plans to increase prices in the future, according to Naveen Chopra, Paramount Global Executive Vice President and CFO. During their Q3 earnings call, he stated that there are “opportunities to increase price on Paramount+.”

What Peacock is planning for 2023

Peacock enjoyed a major success in 2022, doubling its paid subscribers to 18 million thanks to NBC and Bravo next-day episodes from Hulu and being the Spanish-language streaming home for all World Cup games.

In 2023, Peacock will bring fans the “John Wick” prequel series, “The Continental,” plus original shows like Natasha Lyonne’s “Poker Face” and Mike Judge and Zach Woods’ adult animation series, “In the Know.”

Starting in 2023, JetBlue will partner with Peacock as its exclusive streaming provider, expanding the service to many more customers.

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell has stated that “at some point” Peacock plans to convert Xfinity users from free to paid subscribers. This could be a disappointment for non-payers, but makes sense given the 30 million monthly active users already enjoying the streaming service at no cost.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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