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Who Is Winning The Streaming Wars As of Now — And Why

Michael King

A dozen Hollywood insiders sat down with entertainment blog Vulture this week to give their view on who they think is “winning” the streaming wars.

Not surprisingly, Netflix came out at or near the top of the heap by each of the insiders, and with more than 207 million paid subscribers worldwide, during the first quarter of 2021, they truly are the company that rules the streaming roost.

The comments, however, were a bit more visceral.

“I think there’s a backlash against Netflix. I love the people there. But they don’t make a lot of great deals,” one agent said. “I don’t know why you wouldn’t want shows to last longer than three seasons.”

Outside of Netflix at number one, the bigger battle came for the other slots on the list.
Disney+ landed in the number two spot.

The insiders had lots of great things to say about Disney, pointing in particular to their success with recent content from Star Wars and Marvel.

“Bet against Star Wars and Marvel at your own risk,” a PR executive said. “They were really smart not to go the Netflix way of (releasing) all episodes at once. They dominate the conversation weekly with their hit shows.”


Disney+ is an ad-free video streaming service with over 13,000 series and films from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, The Muppets, and more. It is available in 61 countries and 21 languages.

The Disney streaming service costs $7.99 / month, or $79.99 / year ($6.67 / month). You can bundle it with Hulu and ESPN+ for just $13.99 a month (cheaper than Netflix).

The app supports unlimited downloads, four simultaneous streamers, up to 7 profiles, 4K streaming, and includes hundreds of avatars.

The service includes 25+ new original series, 10+ original movies, 7,500 past episodes, 100 recent movies, and 400 library titles including the entire Disney Vault. You can stream original series like “The Mandalorian”, “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”, “Loki”, and “Monsters at Work.”

You can see the full list of available Disney, Disney Channel, Star Wars, Pixar, Marvel, Nat Geo shows and movies, or all available Disney Plus content by checking out our Disney+ Streaming Movie List.

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An agent echoed the praise.

“The most important streamer now, and in the future,” the agent said. “For me, it’s about the success rate of their shows and how quickly they ascended.”

HBO Max landed in the third-place spot. They were a little bit slower out of the gate — with carriage problems on Roku and Amazon Fire TV early on. But once those issues were solved, HBO Max reached its stride.

“(The) HBO brand is still hugely important to talent - see ‘Mare of Easttown’,” one agent said. “HBO Max has done a good job with ‘Flight Attendant’ and ‘Hacks’ finding a niche.”

A Wall Street analyst agreed.


HBO Max is a subscription video streaming service that gives access to the full HBO library, along with exclusive Max Originals. It is The Streamable’s choice for Best Streaming Service of 2022.

HBO Max has two tiers, an ad-supported plan for $9.99 and ad-free plan for $14.99. HBO Max without ads also includes features like the ability to download offline and 4K streaming.

Subscribers will have access to hit HBO series like Succession, Mare of Easttown, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and more.

All HBO Max subscribers will get the full libraries of shows like “Friends”, “The Big Bang Theory”, “South Park”, “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, “The West Wing”, and more.

They also will get Max Originals that aren’t available to HBO channel subscribers, like “The Flight Attendant” (Kaley Cuoco), “Love Life” (Anna Kendrick), as well as reboots to “Sex In The City” and “Gossip Girl.”

“This service is really underrated. Just always great talent, the best library, and more to come,” the analyst said.

Amazon Prime Video landed in the middle of the pack at number four.

Amazon’s direction with sports — in particular with the NFL — has allowed it to make other moves that other streamers have not desired, or been willing to make. By paying about $1 billion for the rights to Thursday Night Football, Amazon arguably has placed itself into a different league, so to speak, when it comes to competing with other streamers and acquisition of programming.

A producer pointed out that in addition, their marketing efforts are not to be ignored.

“Their marketing reach is extremely valuable, and the execs are well-liked,” the producer said.

An agent compared them to a sleeping giant. “It’s like a sleeping giant that hasn’t spent money,” the agent said, in reference to Amazon’s movie and television efforts.

Apple TV+ landed at number five on the list.

They have had a lot of criticism, mostly tied to the combination of deep pockets and comparatively shallow programming slate. The insiders that Vulture spoke to were mixed in their analysis.

“They’re great programmers,” a PR veteran said. “Unfortunately, it took longer than it should have for them to get up and running, so I feel they missed a window of opportunity that Amazon jumped through first.”

Apple TV+

Apple TV+ is a subscription video streaming service for $4.99 a month that includes high-quality originals shows and movies including Best Picture winner “CODA,” popular sitcom “Ted Lasso,” and dramas like “The Morning Show” and “For All Mankind.” Apple TV+ is also home to MLB baseball games on Friday nights.

They have titles coming from Oprah, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jason Momoa, J.J. Abrams, M. Night Shyamalan, Jennifer Garner, and Octavia Spencer.

If you purchase an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV, you can get a free year of Apple TV+.

A studio executive was more optimistic.

“The arrow’s going up,” the exec said. “I was dubious, but they’ve done a good job.”

At number six, Hulu received a lot of criticism.

Disney is in the midst of an ongoing legal battle with Comcast over the fate of Hulu. As it stands now, Comcast owns a minority stake in Hulu through 2024.

Many analysts in the United States have suggested that Hulu may be a streamer that should just be rolled into Disney+ — much as Star exists as a portal inside of Disney+ in some overseas markets.

This was echoed by a Wall Street analyst: “Time will remember it only as a near-first mover that spent a decade without sufficient funding and was ultimately eclipsed by a much better product: the Star tab within Disney.”

Speaking of Comcast, their streaming service, Peacock, landed in last place at seventh.

They were derided by several of the insiders for programming and marketing efforts.
“Someone lend these people some money so at least they pretend to be contenders,” one PR veteran said.


Peacock is a subscription video streaming service from NBCUniversal that gives access to up to 15,000 hours of content including original shows, blockbuster movies, and classic television series.

It will include news, entertainment, sports, late-night, and reality from various NBCU properties including NBC, Bravo, and E!.

Just like other streaming services, Peacock will have their own original series including reboots of Save By The Bell, Punky Brewster, and Battlestar Galactica. They also have shows like Rutherford Falls (Ed Helms), Dr. Death (Alec Baldwin), and a behind-the-scenes docs-series about Saturday Night Live.

The company has acquired the rights to many classic shows like the entire Dick Wolf library including Law & Order and Chicago Fire, Parks and Recreation, and The Office.

The service will also feature blockbusters and critically-acclaimed films from Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and content acquired from Hollywood’s biggest studios.

“You’ve got some amazing IP to exploit, and your international offerings are more appealing than Netflix, but you’re a mess,” said a reality producer. “Selling to them is equally as irritating because there are just a handful of gatekeepers who are deciding if your pitch belongs at NBC broadcast or the 15,000 other NBCU outlets.”

The biggest question when it comes to Peacock for producers — and the general public — is whether the streaming content from the upcoming Tokyo and Beijing Summer and Winter Olympic Games will be enough to bring in viewers, and make them stick around.


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