Apple and Disney are about to shake up the streaming wars in a monumental way

NetflixLiberty Belle from Netflix’s ‘Glow.’ She looks beaten up and worried, like how Netflix is probably feeling right now.
  • Apple and Disney are about to launch their highly anticipated streaming services.
  • Apple TV Plus launches on Friday and costs $US5 a month. Disney Plus launches on November 12 and costs $US7 a month.
  • A standard subscription to Netflix, meanwhile, costs $US13 a month – more than the price of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus combined.
  • The presence of Apple and Disney is going to raise the bar for what people expect from a subscription streaming service.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The streaming landscape is going to change drastically in the next couple of weeks.

Right now, the big names in streaming are Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO. It’s been this way for years now.

But on Friday, Apple will join the fray.

And in about two weeks, Disney, the 800-pound gorilla, will enter the picture.

The competition is about to heat up. Apple and Disney are about to raise the bar for what people expect out of streaming services in terms of quantity, quality, and price.


On Friday, Apple will release Apple TV Plus, where Apple’s original programming will live. It costs $US5 a month, but you get one free year of service if you buy an Apple product, such as an iPhone or Mac computer.

Apple; Stephanie Keith/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Early reviews for Apple TV Plus are mixed, with some critics calling series like “The Morning Show” and “See” underwhelming, at least at launch. But Apple has a ton of star power — and promise — attached to this thing.

Apple

Just look at all of the names who have committed to building series for Apple TV Plus: Steven Spielberg, Steve Carell, Chris Evans, the NBA star Kevin Durant, Kristen Bell, Rashida Jones, and Oprah Winfrey (to name a few).

Questions about quality aside, these are A-listers you don’t usually see attached to streaming services. Netflix and HBO get some pretty big names too, including some of the names above, but Apple and Disney are going to attract a lot of big-name Hollywood talents. That will put more pressure on Netflix and HBO to continually do the same.


In about two weeks, Disney will launch Disney Plus, which costs $US7 a month. (Disney has also been offering promotions throughout the year so it can be even cheaper than that.)

Handout / Handout / Getty Images

Disney Plus, like Apple TV Plus, will host a ton of original programming, but it also benefits from Disney’s massive vault. On top of Disney’s own movies and shows, Disney also owns Pixar, Marvel, “Star Wars,” National Geographic, and Fox (including “The Simpsons”), so expect an onslaught of options.

Disney

Even if you buy subscriptions to both Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus, that’s still cheaper than a single standard subscription to Netflix.

NetflixNetflix’s ‘Stranger Things.’

Netflix has three plans:

  • “Basic” limits you to one screen and is standard-definition only. It costs $US9 a month.
  • “Standard” gives you high-definition video and lets you watch two screens at once. That costs $US13 a month.
  • “Premium” offers 4K support (on content where it’s available), and you can watch on four screens at once. It costs $US16 a month.

Similarly, HBO Now costs $US15 a month.

HBOHBO’s ‘Silicon Valley.’

A lot of people watch HBO and Netflix, since they have a ton of programming that people like to talk about, but the presence of Apple and Disney might make some people rethink their subscriptions.

Reuters

All these streaming services start to add up. Hulu can cost anywhere from $US6 a month to $US12 a month. Amazon Prime Video can cost $US9 a month, though it’s included if you’re an Amazon Prime member.

If you want all the above services, plus the new ones from Apple and Disney, it’s going to cost you: If you buy into all the above services – Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, a standard Netflix subscription, HBO Now, and Hulu – you’re going to pay around $US46 a month.


It will be interesting to see how people receive Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus. But given how the companies behind these services have a ton of power, money, and influence in the tech and entertainment spheres, I’m expecting a big shift in the landscape. The pressure will be on incumbents like Netflix and HBO to prove the value of their offerings.

HBOHBO’s ‘Watchmen.’

HBO is in pretty good shape, even after the global bow of “Game of Thrones.” It has a ton of hit shows, big-name actors, and interesting series, like “Watchmen,” “Euphoria,” and “Silicon Valley.” It has always been a premium service, so don’t expect much to change there. HBO will also have a new service, HBO Max, coming in 2020, and the company is pouring a ton of resources into it.

Netflix, on the other hand, is perhaps the most popular streaming service – for shows like “Stranger Things,” movies like “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” and excellent docuseries like the new “Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner” series from David Chang – but it also has a ton of programming I’ll just never watch. Netflix could definitely be pickier about which shows and movies it chooses to produce.

As Apple and Disney release their streaming services, it will be interesting to see how these mainstays respond. There will be more pressure to create shows that are not just good but phenomenal – both popular and critically acclaimed. Hopefully, these services (particularly Netflix and HBO) choose to also reexamine their own monthly prices.

But two things are certain: More competition in this space is a very good thing, and there has never been a better time to be a cord cutter.

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