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Begun, the Streaming Wars Have

Major media companies are committing heavily to new platforms going into 2020.

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Neil Macker: The streaming wars have started with the launches of both Apple TV+ and Disney+ in November. With the expected launches of Peacock from NBCUniversal in April and HBOMax in May, consumers will be faced with a plethora of choices for their streaming video needs. These major media firms are withholding their own hit shows and movies like "The Office," "Friends," and "Captain Marvel" in order to create a compelling offering.

Apple TV+ marks Apple’s first foray into the media production world. The service relies on first-party content from a number of well-known actors and directors such as Reese Witherspoon, Jenifer Aniston, and Steven Spielberg. Due to Apple’s lack of a media library, Apple TV+ launched with a meager catalog that received mediocre reviews. However, at $4.99 per month, AppleTV+ is one of the cheapest streaming services and is also free to new Apple device owners.

In contrast, Disney emptied its back catalog to fill the library of its new service, Disney+. The new streaming offering is a play on the strength of Disney’s entire history of content creation starting with "Steamboat Willie." Disney+ also benefits from the recent success of Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar to create an offering for both children and adults. Disney is also being very aggressive on pricing by offering Disney+ for $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year. While Disney+ did suffer from some initial technical difficulties, the service had over 10 million free and paid subscribers on its first day.

Both the pricing and high-profile launches of Apple TV+ and Disney+ speak to the commitment of both firms to the streaming space. In response, Netflix has recently signed deals to acquire the streaming rights for "Seinfeld" and a number of new Nickelodeon shows. We expect that this increased level of competition from all players will continue for the next three to five years.

Neil Macker does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.