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Em Unravelling

"New" Streaming Giant To Take On Netflix In The Battle For Our Subscription Dollars

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Em Unravelling
Em Unravelling
 30 days ago
Game of Thrones stillHBO/UK Guardian

Over the past year, with very little to do other than stay home under Covid-19 restrictions, I've added substantially to the plethora of programs available to me for streaming. I already had Netflix and Amazon Prime, but box set envy led me to additionally sign up to Apple TV and Now TV (so that I can watch Sky channels without a Sky subscription). I also let my son subscribe for a year's worth of Disney+. Basically, I'm quite literally spoilt for choice (and paralyzed by indecision, most of the time).

Now, another player's entering the crowded game. AT&T - which is the largest telecoms company in the world, and the parent company behind such behemoths as HBC (Succession! I love Succession!), CNN, and Warner Bros, the Hollywood studio responsible for juggernaut franchises like Harry Potter and Game of Thrones - has agreed a deal whereby its media content arm will detach (ouch!) to merge with Disney+ and bring a "global media superpower" to the streaming market.

[The deal will create] a globally scaled growth company committed to a strong balance sheet that is better positioned to compete with the world’s largest streamers - David Zaslav, Chief Executive of Discovery

This would mean that the distribution of the Warner Bros films such as Harry Potter, classic HBO series such as Game of Thrones, and Warner series like Friends along with Discovery's prodigious output of home, cooking, and nature shows, would be controlled and overseen by one strong player in the market. AT&T chief executive John Stankey says it's exciting:

This agreement unites two entertainment leaders with complementary content strengths and positions the new company to be one of the leading global direct-to-consumer streaming platforms. - John Stankey

And I guess in many ways it is an exciting idea - but it feels like it's coming very late. HBO and HBO Max, which are the existing Warner Media subscription services, have around 64 million subscribers, but Netflix - who brought us such lockdown essentials as Tiger King and Schitt's Creek - has a whopping 208 million. That's a serious amount of ground for any new player in the marketplace to cover.

And, as we all look to a vaccinated future with more activities possible away from our sofas, and the chance of actual cinema trips now becoming a genuine possibility - couldn't this be the time that fewer and fewer of us want to add to our stable of possible streaming options, and shift our focus away from the small screen?

You have to wonder. Mind you, as the streaming service responsible for Friends, it's not like the new player will be short of a ready and waiting loyal audience.