Stranger Things series four, Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon and the new episodic adaptation of Lord of the Rings will spearhead streaming services in 2022 but, in some territories, streamers are forming alliances to compete.
While Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are available in most countries worldwide, it is only now that competition among the most recent series of major entrants is being carried over internationally.
This includes Disney which recently launched Disney+ in Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea and plans further expansion in eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Peacock, the streaming platform of NBC-Universal has just begun its roll-out in Europe, as has HBO Max. ViacomCBS’ Paramount+ is opening up in Europe next year too.
“Hollywood will find foreigners a tough crowd,” says Tom Wainwright, media editor at The Economist. “Emerging markets mean lower revenues: Disney+ makes less than $1 a month from subscribers in India.”
Even in rich countries, margins are lower than in the U.S. The average American cable bill comes to nearly $100 a month, according to researcher Ampere Analysis. In Britain the equivalent is half that. And whereas Americans are ditching their overpriced cable packages in record numbers, freeing spending power for streaming, Europeans seem to be much more attached to their pay-tv subscriptions.
Matters are complicated by existing rights deals. HBO Max won’t launch in the lucrative UK market until 2023 because of an existing contract to air its content with Sky (owned by WarnerMedia rival Comcast)
That’s why competitors are becoming “co-petitors” — strategic partnerships to wean new subscribers to their services. As The Economist points out, this includes the mega-merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia. Comcast and ViacomCBS, whose streaming platforms, Peacock and Paramount+, compete with each other in the US, have agreed to cooperate internationally. Their output will be combined into yet another streaming service, called SkyShowtime, which will launch in Europe in 2022.
ViacomCBS has also struck another deal with Sky to launch Paramount+ in the UK, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Switzerland sometime in 2022. The pact will make the streaming TV service available on Sky platforms in return for Sky extending carriage of ViacomCBS pay TV channels like Comedy Central.
Big content spends, tapping emerging markets, and automated versioning: these are just a few of the strategies OTT companies are turning to in the fight for dominance in the global marketplace. Stay on top of the business trends and learn about the challenges streamers face with these hand-curated articles from the NAB Amplify archives:
- How To Secure the Next Billion+ Subscribers
- Think Globally: SVOD Success Means More Content, Foreign Content and Automated Versioning
- How Does OTT Gain Global Reach? Here’s Where to Start.
- Governments Draw Battlelines To Curb the US Domination of SVOD
- Streaming Content: I Do Not Think You Know What That Word Means
International expansion offers Hollywood streamers a chance to sign up tens of millions of new customers and swell their war chests. But the battle for subscribers will be harder won than at home.