Streaming platforms are changing: Here’s what you need to know

Post-COVID binge watching will look a little different


AP News Room

Netflix announced a drop in almost one million subscribers in the second quarter of 2022, resulting in Netflix shares dropping by nearly 65%.

Streaming platforms like Netflix or Disney+ experienced unforeseen heights during 2020, but now that we are reaching a ‘post-pandemic’ era, these platforms are losing steam. In order to fight the loss of popularity, these platforms are pulling out all the old tricks to pinch every last penny. Here is an update about what you need to know about the more popular platforms.

Starting Sep. 19, 2022, Peacock will temporarily cut their Premium plan’s price from a monthly charge of $4.99 to $1.99, with less than five minutes of ads per hour. ”

— Slashfilm

Netflix: The Pirate Police

Every Netflix user understands the Unspoken Rule of the Family Plan: everyone is family when it comes to sharing the username and password to your account. While this rule is convenient for those who don’t want to pay $9.99 a month for a basic subscription, it is anything but for Netflix, which has been steadily losing hundreds of thousands of users since the beginning of 2022, leading to the first net loss Netflix has experienced in 10 years. 

The service will start charging an extra $3 a month per ‘extra home’ that logs in to a family account, according to Alabama News Network. This means that if a family has multiple members staying in different areas, there will be an extra fee per home.

While Netflix is pointing fingers at the non-paying members of the service, many users point to the lack of ‘good’ content as the reason for Netflix’s recent decline. This was highlighted in 2020 and 2021 when TV show juggernauts Friends and The Office left Netflix. Regardless of what’s causing the loss in subscribers, Netflix still faces continual damage, so far as to report losing 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022.

In hopes of regaining a stable user base, Netflix has also announced to implement a cheaper subscription plan that includes advertising, shocking many users. When Netflix first launched in 2007, its most lucrative feature was the lack of advertisements embedded in the service, something that was never seen before when cable television was the status quo. Now that Netflix is voluntarily shedding what originally made it unique, many Netflix subscribers are left scratching their heads. 

Not every conversation surrounding Netflix is negative, however. Many Netflix Originals have recently been gaining traction. The new fourth season of Stranger Things reached 1.35 billion hours viewed, and the new release of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman is reaching near critical acclaim. 

Disney+: Marvel Madness

Disney+ has seen enormous growth in revenue, subscribers, and critically acclaimed content since 2020. With a growth of 14.4 million subscribers in the third quarter of 2022 according to the Washington Post, Disney+ has repeatedly beat its competitors in terms of user growth.

A net growth is not all Disney+ has to brag about; the platform has been churning out content more consistently than any other service. Since the beginning of 2022, Disney+ has released shows such as Ms Marvel, She-Hulk, Moon Knight, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, all receiving critic scores above 80%.

It’s clear that while critics love this new flow of content, fans of the MCU and even Star Wars have other thoughts. She-Hulk, which has not yet released all nine episodes of its season, already has an audience score of 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Kenobi has been treated similarly with a mere 68% audience score compared to its 80% critic score. 

Despite of this underwhelming audience reception, there is still good to come. Season 2 of The Mandalorian is said to release some time in February of 2023, and a second season of Loki has also been rumored to air in the summer of 2023.

HBO Max: The Unnamed Merger

In April 2022, WarnerMedia, the owner of HBO Max, merged with Discovery, the owner of Discovery+, to create the company Warner Bros. Discovery. Recently, Warner Bros. Discovery has announced its plan to create one integrated streaming platform by merging HBO Max with Discovery+. This streaming service will be released in the summer of 2023. Specific details, such as this new service’s name, will be released in the months to come. While no plans have been announced yet, the company is exploring different bundling options to charge the new service according to Mashable.

Subscription rates for the merger are uncertain, but as of now, HBO Max has a monthly rate of $10 with ads, and $15 without them. Discovery+ has a monthly rate of $5 with ads, and $7 without them. By merging these two streaming services together, it seems possible that the new rate would be marginally higher. 

In terms of content, Warner Bros. Discovery removed several of HBO Max’s original films such as Seth Rogen’s An American Pickle, Lana Condor and Cole Sprouse‘s Moonshot, Anne Hathaway’s The Witches, and Melissa McCarthy’s Superintelligence. They also canceled the release of Batgirl last week, even though Batgirl finished shooting according to The Guardian.  Warner Bros. Discovery removed some of their original movies without informing the public, which was surprising as HBO Max always gave a public announcement on which movies were leaving their platform each month. 

Meanwhile, HBO Max will display content from Discovery+ such as the Magnolia Network’s Fixer Upper: Welcome Home, Magnolia Table With Joanna Gaines and The Lost Kitchen

Hulu: Netflix’s Copycat

Just as Netflix has been raising its prices, Hulu has been quick to follow suit. In a press release on Aug. 10, The Walt Disney Company, which owns Hulu, announced that starting Oct. 10, 2022, the price of Hulu Premium without ads will rise from $12.99 to $14.99 per month. There will be no annual charge for this plan. The cheaper Hulu Basic with ads will also increase its cost from $6.99 to $7.99 per month, or $79.99 per year.

Meanwhile, Hulu + Live TV, which also includes Disney+ and ESPN+ in its plan, will release new plans on Dec. 8. The service was initially $39.99 per-month, but in Dec. 2019, the price increased to $54.99 per month. In Nov. 2020, the rate for Hulu + Live TV increased to $64.99 per month. Right now, with the ad-free plan with Live TV included, Hulu + Live TV costs $69.00.

As for releases, the 2006 film “Akeelah and the Bee” has landed on Hulu. Tom Hanks’ “Cast Away,” Natalie Portman’s “Black Swan,” the first two “Despicable Me” films, and Tobey Maguire’s “Spider-Man” trilogy also arrived this month. 

The Hulu Original film “Prey” arrived on Aug. 5, with “Legacy: The True Story of the L.A. Lakers” following suit on Aug. 15. Another exclusive that was released to be streamed on Aug. 30 was Steve Carell’s limited series “The Patient.”

Peacock: Hurry Before it Flutters Away

Starting Sep. 19, 2022, Peacock, the home of the greats such as “The Office,” “Modern Family,” and “They/Them,” will temporarily cut their Premium plan’s price from a monthly charge of $4.99 to $1.99, with less than five minutes of ads per hour. This price cut will only be available for the month of September according to Slashfilm.

Not only this, but if new customers register for the Premium plan this September, they could also purchase the Premium plan for $19.99 for an entire year as part of their “special celebratory Fall offer.” However, these one-of-a-kind deals are only available for this September, and the Premium price will go back to its regular $4.99 per month in October.

Part of the reason why Peacock is cutting its Premium Tier plan is because as of Sep. 19, Peacock will become the new home for NBCUniversal shows (such as Saturday Night Live, The Voice and American Auto), offering its Premium subscribers access to current seasons of these shows the day after they air on the network. As a result, NBCUniversal shows will no longer hit Hulu the day after they air.

Currently, Peacock has three tiers available for viewers: A free plan, which, according to the Peacock website,  allows 40,000 hours of shows, movies, and sports, and at least 50 always-on channels. The Premium plan, which costs less with the September deal, adds another 20,000 hours of content, live sports events (such as Premier League, Sunday Night Football, and WWE), and the next day access to NBC and Bravo shows, meaning that customers can view NBC and Bravo shows the day after they are released. 

If five minutes of ads is too much, there is also the Plus tier plan which is ad-free with a few exceptions for streaming rights, and allows customers to download and watch shows offline.

Now that more people are getting up from their sofas, streaming services have lost legions of subscribers. While some streaming services are upping their prices and others lowering them to attract consumers, every action is meant to bolster consumerism in hopes of recovering from quite a drastic slump. But as for us, let’s just keep calm and binge on! (With whatever little time we have.)