Netflix is so popular and ubiquitous that it can make mediocre movies and shows like “Bird Box” and “You” into cultural phenomenons. TV series that went off the air years ago, like “Friends” and “The Office,” can become the most popular shows in the world simply by being on Netflix.
But Netflix will soon not have such an easy time retaining you as a customer.
In the coming months, Netflix will face competition the likes of which it has never seen. Rather than ending your night with Netflix by default, you’ll soon have choices of Disney+, HBO Max, and the improved Hulu and Amazon Prime services. Netflix will no longer be a given.
Below are some of the biggest ways Netflix’s competition will try to steal you away in the near future.
1. HBO Max will take “Friends” away from Netflix.
“Friends” will leave Netflix in 2020. Next spring, HBO Max will launch and offer the show exclusively.
WarnerMedia, the company behind HBO Max, has not announced a price for the new streaming service, but did say it would cost a bit more than HBO Now, which currently runs $14.99 a month.
In 2016, New York magazine ran a feature titled, “Is ‘Friends’ Still The Most Popular Show On TV?” The conclusion was basically yes. A few years later, that case still holds, although “The Office” may have recently taken the mantle. Which is too bad for Netflix because …
2. NBCUniversal’s new streaming service will grab away “The Office.”
Netflix will lose “The Office” in 2021, as the show becomes an exclusive on a forthcoming ad-supported streaming service from NBCUniversal. That company won a bidding war for the streaming rights and will pay $100 million per year for five years.
Details remain a bit scarce for the NBCUniversal streaming service, although it should launch in 2020. The service will be free, but ad-supported to anyone who already pays for cable (and around $12 a month for those who don’t).
“The Office” has become a cultural phenomenon while on Netflix. The show’s renewed popularity has grown so much that it’s become a cliche on dating websites to list liking “The Office” as a personality trait. A satire of this dating quirk went viral just a few months ago:
3. Disney+ will hoard its Disney projects (which includes Marvel movies).
In anticipation of launching a rival streaming service, Disney did not renew a deal with Netflix that licensed various shows and movies to the service. Disney+ will be available later this year, but that doesn’t mean that all the Disney movies will immediately disappear from Netflix ― the phase-out will be gradual.
More confusingly, Netflix will regain the streaming rights to various Disney projects (including some Marvel movies such as “Black Panther”) around the year 2026. That deal has a specific time window, though, and Disney+ will stream any Disney movie released after December 2018 (such as “Avengers: Endgame” or the upcoming “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”), as well as its large back catalog.
So, while the Disney+ competition remains murky, Netflix will still have to contend with this new juggernaut stocked with a great library that spans decades. The service will debut Nov. 12 and will cost $7 a month.
4. Hulu swallowed up FX+, meaning its library just got way better.
This also relates to Disney, as the company bought 21st Century Fox and a majority stake in Hulu earlier in 2019. That means the company took over Fox properties such as FX, the home of stellar shows such as “Atlanta” and “Fargo.”
As Disney+ will be more of a streaming service aimed at families, Disney has decided to make Hulu the home for adult content in the FX wheelhouse.
Although FX shows will only air simultaneously on Hulu on a case-by-case basis, shows that do so will likely receive a popularity boost, given Hulu’s ubiquity. Streaming on FX had been clunky, with bad code and copious advertisement breaks making for a bad streaming experience. Putting a show like “Atlanta” on Hulu right as it airs could help it achieve the same cultural popularity that Netflix shows more easily enjoy. If nothing else, this weird scene from “Atlanta” should definitely be seen by more people:
5. Amazon will spend massive amounts of money on projects like the new “Lord of the Rings” show (and video game).
Amazon spent around $1 billion in 2017 on a forthcoming “Lord of the Rings” project. The company had to spend around $250 million on the rights alone, and the remainder of the money will go into filming various adaptations.
These are big-budget moves that Netflix can’t quite compete with, at least not yet. That said, I’d love to see Netflix try to adapt “Russian Doll” into a video game.