Price Hike? Good Bye Netflix, Hello Streaming Options Galore

UPDATE: As of 1 January 2020, a 7% GST (Goods and Services Tax) will be added on top of the revised Netflix subscription prices. Go figure.

If Netflix ever raises its prices again, I’m cancelling my family subscription plan.

It’s not because I’ve noticed that more movies are being removed from the service, or that fewer titles are being added as replacements. It’s that as far as streaming services go, Netflix is no longer the leader, the one with the most titles, or the cheaper option.

From the eye of the discerning consumer, 2019 is a year rife with exciting new services and shows lined up for devouring. NBCUniversal has unveiled its offerings, as had Disney+, and there are more to come. Unlike a few years ago, these exciting new services and shows are not Netflix Original.

Netflix, once held as the pinnacle of home entertainment over the last few years, is fast losing its grip of its consumer base. If you want to catch up on all things Marvel before catching Avengers: Endgame, you’re out of luck. Popular TV shows such as Friends and The Office are on their out, and those icons are irreplaceable.

Interestingly, Netflix themselves know this, and with the looming competition, are actually projecting their subscriber count to drop by over eight per cent down to roughly 5 million people – that’s 400,000 less from last year.

Competitors aside, Netflix has been in a (growing) conundrum in recent months. This is especially so with their upcoming price hikes across the globe of around S$4. It may seem a small increment, but you’re talking an additional S$4 to an already rather steep price of S$16.98 per month, assuming you’re using the most expensive plan available.

Yes, we get it, the extra few bucks is to cover the costs of new Netflix Original productions, but are the new shows any better than, say, House of Cards or Orange is the New Black?

House of Cards — one of the Netflix old guard.

Let’s face it – Netflix has been struggling for content in 2019. Yes, there are the likes of Umbrella Academy, and the upcoming third season of Stranger Things, among other newcomers such as Love, Death & Robots and the upcoming Witcher TV series. But those shows (okay, maybe besides Stranger Things) don’t have the lasting power the way the aforementioned House of Cards or Narcos did.

Fact is, we might be seeing an era where your favourite TV shows won’t make it past a third season because it does not add to subscriber growth. And while their cancellation is politically charged, bye bye Daredevil, Jessica Jones and The Punisher.

Sorry, Daredevil.

While not outwardly communicated this trend does ring true. Additionally, Netflix Marvel’s The Defenders line of shows, have also been nixed by Netflix not making past a third season. Daredevil, Jessica Jones and The Punisher have all been received rather well by their audience, but due to the rise of Disney+ (more on that later), Netflix has less and less up their sleeve to retain consumer loyalty.

There are also new Netflix Originals from Asia such as Ultraman and Kingdom to draw a wider range of consumers. But, again, these are only catering to a niche audience, which amounts to a small fraction of the entire Netflix consumer base. The hope here is reaching out to smaller niches with the hope of turning them around to watch the more mainstream content found on the platform.

Granted, the presence of competitors such as Amazon Prime (American Gods, the upcoming The Boys) and Hulu (with their upcoming quartet of Marvel TV shows) have stepped up their game in recent months as well, but they don’t hold a candle to Netflix the way the upcoming Disney+ is. And nope, not even the grandeur of Westeros in HBO’s Game of Thrones can possibly overpower the House of Mouse once it drops.

Ah, yes. The proverbial giant-killer is, in many ways, a rising giant itself. Disney+ may very well topple Netflix in terms of sheer content alone, boasting a multitude of movies and TV series that it has under its ever-increasing list of acquired distributors.

The taking down of heavy hitters such as Marvel’s Defenders series are a testament to Disney’s pulling power. These shows may have been Netflix Originals, but they are under the Marvel umbrella first and foremost. With Disney hitting the streaming market in November this year, Netflix will most definitely be feeling the heat from this mouse-eared competitor.

Shows like Loki, WandaVision, Falcon & Winter Soldier are not your regular TV shows – they’re straight out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe mythos. That means the ridiculously large fanbase following the Marvel Studios films over the past decade will naturally swarm over to Disney+ to follow the stories of their favourite characters to have been borne out of The Infinity Saga.

This guy alone would bring thousands of fans knocking on Disney+’s doors.

Disney sure has prepared themselves for the long term, especially with the epic Avengers: Endgame alone set to bring majority of those fans to the fold. And if that’s not enough, the iconic What If? Marvel storylines will also be adapted into an animated series on Disney+, giving Marvel fans everything they could’ve asked for, and then some.

But Disney won’t stop there. Marvel is but one of the five main categories – the rest being Disney, Pixar, Star Wars and National Geographic – readily available for consumers to gorge upon. There will be roughly 400 movies that will be under Disney and Pixar alone, what with Disney’s humongous catalogue of animated and Pixar films in its arsenal. Star Wars will naturally have all of its main film series and spin-offs, including spin-off TV series such as the upcoming Pedro Pascal-led Mandalorian to cater to yet another enormous sect of pop culture fandom.

Don’t even get us started on the new content they received after their merger with 20th Century Fox. The amount of choice for the consumer in Disney+ is staggering, and they’ve barely even begun. And the best part? American audiences get to enjoy everything for just US$6.99. Indicators are pointing to a 2020 global rollout for Disney+ and the pricing should not deviate far from the US price point.

But of course, this is besides the fact that Disney’s catalogue is still growing, and with less than thirty original series currently set to launch compared to Netflix’s hundreds currently. But they’ll catch up soon enough, considering the amount of money Disney has been making with its Marvel and Star Wars IPs alone.

How can Netflix Asia’s hundreds of Korean dramas and Bollywood films possibly beat the Avengers, much less Star Wars AND Fox? No offense to these two genres, by the way, they just don’t have the universal pulling power the likes of Marvel or Star Wars have. And universal pulling power naturally translates to revenue generated. Let’s also not forget all these IPs have their own growing streams of revenues through licensing as well.

Said Netflix in a recent statement: “We don’t anticipate that these new entrants will materially affect our growth.”

Sure, Netflix. Sure. Try to raise your prices, and let’s see what the data reports.

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