A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jul 4, 2020

Who Will Win - and Lose - the Streaming Wars

Big tech will win. And forget about the losers; history will not even remember their names. JL

Scott Galloway reports in Medium:

Big tech has decided that original scripted television will foment enduring loyalty across platforms that sell many things. So, for the foreseeable future, the deepest pockets in the world will spend more on scripted television each year than Canada or Australia spend on defense.The winners of the streaming wars, as defined by which platforms add the most incremental stakeholder value, will be Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV+. Media has now become a customer acquisition vehicle. As is increasingly the case in our economy, big tech wins.

Carpe Stream — Netflix

Netflix, the original gangster, has the largest budget and the best technology. For all the talk about A.I., the only tangible way A.I. has changed my life is the Netflix algorithm. Those endorphins still hit when it figures out I’d like to watch episode six of House of Cards after watching episode five, in 3, 2, 1.

Midlife Crisis

I believe Amazon’s $6 billion spend on original content is the most expensive hair plugs in history. Put another way, it costs a tech guy who looks like Jeff Bezos $6 billion to take his new girlfriend to the Emmys. To be fair, Fleabag may sell a sh*t-ton more paper towels. It’s another reason, which we didn’t need, to renew Prime. If the worst poker players in the world (Cuomo and De Blasio) hadn’t had their bluff called, Mr. Bezos’s midlife crisis would have cost NY taxpayers another $3 billion. But I digress.


HBO changed the landscape and will go down in history as one of the greatest collisions of talent and storytelling in media history. However, HBO is now history, as it embarks on a strategy that could best be described as fu*king stupid. HBO built one of the great cultures of creativity in history. Think Disney’s animation studios in the forties, or Athens, Georgia, in the eighties (REM, B-52s), or… okay, I’m reaching, My. Damn. Blog.

The Empire Finally Strikes Back — Disney+

Pedro Pascal + Baby Yoda = genius. It’s rewarding to welcome the Mouse to the digital age. The Disney+ launch, and its glitches, validated the tech investment at Netflix. However, content does appear to be king, and 10 million sign-ups is validation that being in the business of content creation means you create better content. A flywheel that includes cruise ships, Chewbacca dolls, and a Galaxy’s Edge theme area make Disney+ the most shareholder accretive of the SVOD efforts, as evidenced by the 9% increase in DIS stock ($21 billion) the week of the launch.

Apple TV+

Because I co-host a podcast with Kara Swisher, I’m considered an influencer now and was invited to the premiere of The Morning Show. It was a great event with fabulous people watching a mediocre TV show at… Lincoln Center. Apple TV+ is exactly what you’d expect when a deep-pocketed tech firm hardware starts making TV shows. For the cost of Game of Thrones (each show is $15 million per episode), the viewer gets Murphy Brown. Actually, that’s not fair to Murphy Brown, a great show.


Last mover advantage (none). Good content, good distribution… but does anybody know or care about Peacock?


YouTube, except you have to pay for it.


A cool trivia question about the tens decade. Will become a sub-brand of Disney+.


The winners of the streaming wars, as defined by which platforms add the most incremental stakeholder value, will be Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV+. Media has now become a customer acquisition vehicle, vs. a stand-alone business. So, the firms with the most seamless means of speedballing the media crack will win. The media business is now about phones, cruises, and paper towels.


  • Netflix and/or Disney acquires Roku or other distribution
  • Roku and Hulu will not remain independent
  • Quibi and Peacock underwhelm
  • Apple and Disney add $300 billion in market cap combined by launching recurring revenue bundles, “rundles,” with media at the center.


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