How coronavirus could shape the next era of the streaming wars

Don’t You...Forget About Quibi

quibi-primary-100837650-orig.jpg

quibi-primary-100837650-orig.jpg

Credit: Quibi

As previously reported, the impact of coronavirus on the entertainment industry has the potential to widen the gap between Netflix and Disney in a big way. However, those aren’t the only streaming services likely to be affected by the pandemic - just the most high profile.

The reality here is that, in the short term, the self-isolation and quarantine measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 might drive more consumers to spend more time watching content on platforms like Netflix. At the same time, the economic impacts of the pandemic may lead more customers to try and cut costs by hitting unsubscribe on platforms that can’t keep up with Netflix. 

Here’s a rundown of how we expect coronavirus to affect each of Australia’s major and new streaming services:

Kayo

Credit: Kayo

Ordinarily, Kayo offers up a compelling lineup of content that covers both local leagues like the AFL and NRL and international fare like the NBA and NFL. However, with quarantine measures cancelling or postponing most of those same sporting leagues, you’re not really the value you would otherwise expect for your AU$25 (or AU$35) a month. 

You’re still getting access to on-demand content and a range of sports documentaries but minus the live sport side of the equation, Kayo doesn’t look nearly as neat as it did before.

In the short and medium, we predict that Kayo is going to struggle to gain new subscribers and hold onto existing ones. 

Apple TV+ 

apple-tv-app-100796252-orig.jpgCredit: Apple
apple-tv-app-100796252-orig.jpg

Analysts have previously estimated that Apple’s streaming service has a subscriber-base of around 33 million subscribers but that the vast majority of those subscribers are on the receiving end of last year’s launch promotion - which gave consumers who bought a new iPad, iphone or Macbook a free 12-month subscription to Apple TV+. 

In the short term, that’ll likely keep Apple’s numbers high but the next six months is going to be make or break for Apple. They have to produce enough compelling content to get those users to stay signed on. 

If more people are spending more time catching up on their streaming backlog, it won’t take long for them to run out of things to watch on Apple TV+ and, once they hit that point, it’s hard not to imagine them unsubscribing. You don't get the bargain bin library of Amazon Prime, the comprehensive catalogues of Stan or the revolving stable of Hollywood hits that Netflix uses to bolster their original content lineup.

Coronavirus hasn’t necessarily changed the fact that Apple’s streaming service desperately needs a hit but it has raised the stakes. Since Apple’s 2020 slate of original content isn’t as rigorously scheduled as Netflix, even minor bumps in their production schedule could see their supply of new content dry up sooner rather than later.

Stan

Credit: Stan

Although many expected Stan to fold following the launch of Disney+, the Australian streaming service has persisted. Some reports say that Stan has actually gained subscribers since losing access to Disney’s library of popular films. 

Even if their content library lacks the prestige or fanfare of something like The Mandalorian, Stan continues to provide plenty of value for as little as $10/month.

Ultimately, Stan’s strengths lie in its agility. It might not be producing the volume of original content that Netflix or Amazon are but the service is superb at syndicating both popular series like Better Call Saul and comfort picks like Friends. Stan even managed to scoop up the Oscar-winning Parasite out from under the competition. 

So long as Stan is able to keep those connections in place, they’re likely to maintain their middle-of-the-pack status in the Australian streaming landscape. In our opinion, Stan isn’t likely to topple Netflix anytime soon but they’re in a safe second place position. For a more comprehensive rundown of streaming services in Australia, click here.

Amazon Prime

amazon-prime-video-profiles-100836228-orig.jpgCredit: Amazon
amazon-prime-video-profiles-100836228-orig.jpg

It’s easy to assume that the rise of social distancing represents something of an opportunity for Amazon but whether that actually ends up being true remains to be seen. 

Still, if more people are stuck at home and susceptible to the allures of online shopping, they might end up ordering more stuff on Amazon If consumers are spending more money on Amazon, they might end up subscribing to Prime. If they’re subscribed to Prime, they might start to spend time watching the video content that Amazon Prime Video has to offer. 

2020 was already looking like a pretty year for Amazon Prime Video. After years of lagging behind Netflix in terms of mainstream cultural impact, the service had finally begun to find its feet plus both popular and critical acclaim through shows like Fleabag, The Marvelous Miss Maisel and The Expanse. 

Even if Australian consumers are unlikely to be able to participate in the service’s upcoming SXSW crossover, they’ll still get Star Trek spinoff Picard and a series of stand-up comedy specials featuring local names like Alice Fraser and Tom Gleeson.

To date, the biggest obstacle to Amazon’s growth in the Australian market has been that consumers have too much to watch. However, with self-isolation expected to see consumers consume more streaming content, it’s all too possible that more will look to experiment with their configuration of subscriptions and see what Amazon has to offer. The fact that their price-point undercuts most of the competition doesn’t hurt things either.

For more information about how to sign up for Amazon Prime, click here.

Quibi

Credit: Quibi

Depending on who you ask, the social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are either the best or worst case scenario for streaming newcomer Quibi. 

On one hand, they’re entering the market with a unique content lineup at a time when the demand by consumers for new things to watch is on the rise. On the other hand, Quibi’s biggest selling points have been rendered toothless by social distancing measures. 

Originally, the streaming service was conceived for a world where people would consume bite-sized, Hollywood-produced content on their way to work or while waiting in line for their coffee. Unlike Netflix or Stan, Quibi is all about short 8-10 minute episodes. Right now, the inability to watch Quibi content on a TV or PC, is more of a liability than an asset. 

Still, there is some hope to be had here. Even if the launch of the service hasn’t gone entirely to plan, there’s still room for them to course correct. Quibi’s initial stable of original content is refreshingly different enough to stand out, the company behind the app just needs to get better about getting it in front of people. 

You can find out more about signing up for Quibi here.

Looking for more information about how coronavirus could shape the next year in consumer tech, check out the articles below:

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Tags amazonnetflixStanKayoDisney+Quibi

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Fergus Halliday
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