After years of losing TV subscribers to streaming services like Netflix, TV giants Disney, WarnerMedia, and NBCUniversal are entering the streaming wars head on.
The three legacy media brands are each preparing to launch streaming services in the next year.
Disney's forthcoming service will court families and flesh out the media conglomerate's three-pronged streaming strategy, which also includes Hulu and ESPN Plus. WarnerMedia's offering is banking on the HBO brand, and building on it with original series and programming from Warner Bros. and DC. And NBCUniversal is looking to its library programming for its streaming complement to parent company Comcast's cable service.
Here's everything we know about these services so far. Business Insider will continue to cover them as plans develop.
Disney will be the first out of the gate with the November launch of its family-friendly streaming service, Disney Plus.
The platform will rely heavily on flagship Disney brands, including Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar, as well as National Geographic, which Disney recently acquired along with other assets from 21st Century Fox.
Disney is leveraging Marvel, in particular, to get the streaming service off the ground. It's making Marvel series exclusively for Disney Plus that will be pivotal to the plots of future films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has grossed more than $22 billion at the box office across 23 movies.
Disney Plus will also have a robust collection of Disney films, which could make it indispensable to parents.
The service will be available for a subscription fee, and will not include advertising.
Disney said it will bundle Disney Plus at launch with its sports hub ESPN Plus and the ad-supported version of Hulu, which is Disney's newly controlled home for adult programming.
The company plans to start marketing Disney Plus in August, and offer attendees to its biannual fan convention, D23, first access to the platform.
Launch date: November 12, 2019 (US, Canada, and the Netherlands); November 19, 2019 (Australia and New Zealand)
- $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year
- $12.99 per month for bundle including Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, and Hulu with ads
Programming highlights: Star Wars spinoff "The Mandalorian"; Marvel series "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," "WandaVision," "Loki," "Hawkeye," and "What If…"; Disney Channel spinoffs like "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series"; new and old releases from Disney's movie studios, as the rights becomes available, like "Avengers: Endgame" and "The Lion King."
Read more about Disney's streaming strategy:
- How Disney's marketing advantage over Netflix will be its secret weapon in the streaming war
- Disney execs explain how ESPN Plus is helping build a weapon to fight Netflix, and what they've learned from Facebook
With Disney leaning on family-friendly franchises, AT&T's WarnerMedia appears to be going all-in on its adult network HBO.
The company's upcoming streaming service will be called HBO Max. It will feature programming from HBO, as well as other WarnerMedia brands like Warner Bros., DC Entertainment, TBS, TNT, and CNN. HBO Max will have original series and movies, some of which may tie into WarnerMedia titles off of the platform. The series, "Dune: Sisterhood," for example, is based on Frank Herbert's "Dune" universe, which Warner Bros. is also adapting for film.
HBO Max will have a back catalog of old Warner Bros. movies and TV shows, like "Friends" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," as well, to keep subscribers interested in between new releases. It also has a licensing deal with BBC Studios to stream "Doctor Who" and other shows on the service.
Unlike Netflix, HBO Max will also have live sports and news, though likely not at launch.
"You should assume that, ultimately, HBO Max will have live elements," Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, said on the company's second quarter conference call. "Those live elements — both unique live sports, premium sports, the ones we just went through, NBA, Major League Baseball, NCAA basketball — those are going to be really, really important elements for HBO Max. The same with news."
WarnerMedia has talked about a few different business models for HBO Max. At launch, it's expected to be available for a subscription fee, and without ads. Some programming, such as the live sports and news, will probably feature advertising down the line.
US launch date: Spring 2020
Price: TBD; likely more than the $14.99 per month that HBO Now costs
Programming highlights: Original shows "Dune: Sisterhood"; "Love Life," a romantic comedy starring Anna Kendrick; an animated "Gremlins" series, and a revival of "Gossip Girl." Upcoming HBO programming like Stephen King's "The Outsider"; "The Undoing," from David E. Kelley and starring Nicole Kidman; and "The Nevers," from Joss Whedon. New dramas from the CW including "Batwoman" and "Katy Keene." DC Universe series like "Doom Patrol." And reruns of Warner Bros. shows like "Friends" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," and BBC Studios shows like "Doctor Who" and "Top Gear."
Read more about WarnerMedia's streaming strategy:
- HBO Max will be WarnerMedia's answer to Netflix, coming in the spring of 2020
- A WarnerMedia exec describes the challenges of uniting HBO, Turner, and Warner Bros. and launching the company's new innovation lab
NBCUniversal's untitled streaming service
NBCUniversal streaming service, Peacock, may have a built-in subscriber base when it launches next April. The company is expected to make the service free, with ads, to Comcast's more than 21 million US cable-TV subscribers, and subscribers to other pay-TV bundles. Others may have to pay a subscription fee to access the service.
The company has not announced the pricing details but said it will be both subscription and ad-supported.
NBC announced that the service will launch with 15,000 hours of programming, such as classic NBC shows like "Parks and Recreation" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," and originals including a revival of "Saved by the Bell," and a new "Battlestar Galatica" series from "Mr. Robot" creator Sam Esmail. NBC also previously said it would move its sitcom "A.P. Bio" to the streaming service for its third season.
Peacock will stream "The Office" starting in 2021, when the workplace comedy will leave Netflix to stream exclusively on the forthcoming service. The streaming platform will also feature movies from NBCUniversal-owned studios, Universal, DreamWorks Animation, and Focus Features, as well as programming from the company's networks like Bravo, USA Network, E!, and Spanish-language network Telemundo.
NBCUniversal is building the streaming service on the back of UK-based subsidiary Sky's Now TV platform technology. NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke recently said more than 500 people are working on the service.
US launch date: April 2020
Price: TBD; It will be both subscription and ad-supported.
Programming highlights: Shows from NBCUniversal-owned networks, including "The Office," "Parks and Recreation," "30 Rock," and "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." Original series like a "Battlestar Galactic" reboot from Sam Esmail, a spinoff of Bravo's "The Real Housewives" franchise, a new take on "Saved by the Bell," and "A.P. Bio," which will air its third season exclusively on the streaming service.