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It’s Way Too Early For A Streaming Score Card

As Disney and Apple launch their streaming services this month and various media outlets go crazy trying to determine which service is doing better—I would not be surprised to see weekly score sheets based on the number of (self-reported) subscribers—a behavior that is only sure to increase once Peacock and HBO Max launch—I would like to issue a word of caution.

Most of these numbers are temporary.

As in they are wildly inflated by the deals the various companies have struck in order to promote their services, and in no way reflective of how many people will actually pay cash money for these services once those free deals expire.

To wit: Disney+ is in line to get something like 20 million (non-paying) subs from Verizon because all current Verizon unlimited mobile customers and new FIOS and 5G subs will get a year of Disney+ for free. (NB: OTOH, as one of those Verizon unlimited customers, the only way I know about the Disney deal is that I read the various trades. Friends who don’t work in the industry have been surprised to learn that this deal is available. And while I signed up for it a while ago, communication from Verizon has been pretty much non-existent, even today on launch day. So there’s that.)

Apple is juicing its numbers by giving free subscriptions to anyone who buys an Apple product this year. That includes phones, tablets, watches, laptops and desktops. (Not sure if AirPods count too.). So lots of people worldwide who will not have to pay for Apple the first year either. (This free streaming thing is looking pretty good, lol.)

Now with Apple, the issue seems to be how many of them will download the app, open it, see that there is pretty much nothing on there program-wise, and then forget it even exists. (See our take on Apple’s big #FAIL) 

HBO Max will be getting all sorts of love from AT&T, who will be giving freebies to certain A&T& mobile subs and AT&T TV subs (there are five different services), and while nothing’s been said, it’s likely that Peacock will be getting love from Comcast, though it’s also possible that Peacock will be free and completely ad supported.

See You Next Year

The rubber will hit the road, so to speak, for all of these services once those free subscriptions expire and once users realize that they’ve expired. (Those are not necessarily synchronous events, as the cost is low enough we’re expecting it will take people a few months for them to realize they’re now paying for something they no longer watch.)

That will also be around the time that all of the services are up and running and the Hive Mind has made some decisions as to their various worth, which one has the best shows, which one has the least buffering and crashing, which one has the brand image that best fits with our image of who we are.

Which is another way of saying we’ll have no idea who the winners and losers are for a good year or so. And even then, the question will be “winners and losers with who, and by what standards?”

Because we’re sticking by our original thought on this, which is that it is highly likely that all of these Flixes will succeed at some level, just some will succeed more than others. (Points for oblique Animal Farm reference.)

That of course is the real question and unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait another year to find out.