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Netflix say it isn’t concerned about the “streaming wars” − but linear TV should be

If you follow entertainment and tech news you’ve likely heard a lot about “the streaming wars” – the name given to the competition between Netflix and Amazon and streaming new boys, Disney and Apple. Now, with even more platforms joining the party, the “streaming wars” seem a bigger deal than ever, but Netflix says they’re not even a thing…

In Netflix’s Q4 2019 earnings call, Spencer Wang, Netflix’s VP of finance, investor relations and corporate development, explained why he thinks this term doesn’t really describe what’s happening at all.

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“I think there’s a bit of an over-focus on the ‘streaming wars’ sort of notion, and I know it’s exciting for folks to talk about the ‘clash of the titans’ and all that kind of stuff but I think really the big thing that’s going on is this transition from linear entertainment to streaming on demand entertainment, which is really really big and similar to the transition the industry went through from broadcast to cable,” he said.

“There, what you saw was that a lot of those new cable networks didn’t really take much share from each other but really grew together as broadcasting sort of became smaller over time and I think that’s what is really the big thing that is happening that’s less well understood.”

Wang’s theory, then, is that the new kids on the entertainment block aren’t fighting each other, instead they’re taking customers, profits and market share from the old guard − that is, linear TV.

‘Cord Cutting’ trends in the US certainly support this, as do recent figures from analyst firm Ampere Analysis, which show that people are increasingly subscribing to multiple on demand streaming platforms.

We at Trusted Reviews have been as guilty as every other outlet who covers streaming in discussing the “streaming wars” − simply because the landscape is so interesting right now.

Whether or not streaming services are forced into such direct competition for survival, the platforms will still have to compete in terms of their content and reputations. However, there’s more and more data to suggest that streaming services will co-exist, rather than beating each other into submission with one ultimate winner.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings offered a slightly more specific example, following suggestions that Disney’s launch had hurt Netflix.

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During the earnings call, he said: “The Disney product, Disney Plus, has a lot of great catalogue product and one big new show, The Mandalorian. It primarily is going to take away from linear TV, and takes away a little bit from us, but most of the growth in the future is coming out of linear TV.”

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