While the theatrical market continues to decline for everyone who isn’t Tom Cruise, streaming services are also facing an uncertain future. The COVID-19 pandemic only ensured that the entertainment industry was looking towards exclusive services in the future, and the widespread box office decline has only contributed to that. However, it’s getting harder for film and television fans to catch up with all the must-see content; when you combine the cost of multiple streaming services, the end total rivals that of traditional cable. As a result, some of the top platforms are cutting costs through cancellations as they prioritize hit titles.
Each of the major platforms experiences significant shifts in 2022. Netflix introduced a both an ad-supported tier and additional gaming features, Amazon Prime Video launched their biggest hit ever with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Bob Iger returned as CEO for the Walt Disney Company and promised changes for Disney+, Apple TV+ continued to release prestige projects amidst a price hike, and Paramount+ continued to struggle to maintain all of its Yellowstone spinoffs. However, the story of the year was undoubtedly HBO Max; Warner Brothers Discovery CEO David Zazlav made radical changes to the streaming structure and axed many in development, renewed, in production, and completed projects.
There were many solid shows that failed to get renewed; Minx, Love Life, Made For Love, Fate: The Wink Saga, Blockbuster, Night Sky, The Wilds, Shantaram, Rutherford Falls, Why Women Kill, and The First Lady all got canceled in a particularly brutal, competitive season. In an era of mass cancelations, the streaming wars will grow even more contentious in 2023.
HBO Max Is Completely Restructuring
Under Zazlav’s leadership, some of HBO’s seemingly marquee titles have been axed, canceled, or removed from the service altogether; even though Westworld was once thought of as “the next Game of Thrones,” the ambitious science fiction mystery series was canceled prior to its intended fifth and final season. On the other side of the market, HBO Max canceled the critically acclaimed comedy Minx, despite renewing it for a second season.
Any new shows will be under intense scrutiny to perform well, and even some returning favorites could be under fire if they fail to meet expectations. It’s safe to say that the only show that’s truly safe is Succession; ironically, it might take the ruthlessness of the Roy family to emerge from the streaming wars intact.
Netflix Is Preparing Its Future
Netflix is facing an uncertain future; while the platform was the first in the game and remained at the top for quite some time, it seems like the service is interested in adding subscribers through new media techniques, such as gaming features, workout videos, and inventive narrative programs like next year’s Kaleidoscope, which can be viewed in any order. This may be because some of their marquee titles are coming to a close; Ozark just wrapped up, and both Stranger Things and The Crown are preparing their final seasons.
Taking on a popular franchise can go either way; sometimes you get a runaway hit like Wednesday, and other times you may get a disaster like the canceled live-action Cowboy Bebop. It’s safe to say that unless new shows can generate the instant fandom that recent hits like The Sandman and Lupin did, they may be in danger as Netflix attempts to account for deficits.
Apple TV+ Is Trying To Sustain Its Run of Success
The one service that seems to have not hit any major hurdles is Apple TV+, which became the first streaming service to win the Academy Award for Best Picture with CODA. Although this year Apple TV+ didn’t get so lucky with Emancipation, they may have some other contenders on their hands next year with Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon and Ridley Scott’s Napoleon. Thus far, Apple TV+ has invested in intriguing filmmakers and found success in a diversity of genres; you have pretty different audiences that are watching Ted Lasso, Servant, and Severance. We may see more creators cross over to the service due to the more volatile situation at other streaming services.
Amazon Prime Has A Huge Hit, Now What?
Amazon Prime unquestionably had a big year thanks to the massive global phenomenon of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, as well as returning favorites like Jack Ryan and The Boys. While each of these shows is developing spinoff projects, Amazon is certainly looking at developing similar titles that appeal to the same viewership; Jack Ryan fans will probably enjoy Reacher and The Terminal List, and the studio has noted that there was significant crossover from The Rings of Power fans who watched The Peripheral. Essentially, Amazon Prime wants to please their existing viewership, and diverging shows like Night Sky, Paper Girls, and I Know What You Did Last Summer weren’t so lucky.
Disney+ and Hulu Look To Iger’s Future
It seems like fans weren’t the only ones that were overwhelmed by the sheer number of Star Wars and Marvel content that Disney+ was putting out, as Bob Iger stated during his address to investors that Disney+ would be restructuring to focus on quality over quantity. He said that instead of “chasing subs with aggressive marketing and aggressive spend on content,” the company would be putting a creator-first spin on their upcoming slate. This hopefully indicates that Iger won’t rush shows into production before they’ve been developed, planned, and maximized to their greatest potential; we need more Star Wars content like Andor, and less like The Book of Boba Fett.
What Is Paramount+ Doing?
Thus far, Paramount+ has found success in its previously existing properties; this means we’ll be getting much more Yellowstone, Star Trek, Beavis and Butt-Head, and Criminal Minds. However, a popular show like Why Women Kill didn’t quite generate enough interest to receive a second season, and the ambitious prestige series The Offer underperformed with critics and failed to receive any major awards nominations (which seems unusual for a series about the making of The Godfather). It’s perhaps a sign that shows that aren’t based on Paramount’s existing brands may be in danger in 2023.