Let's go back to the big overriding streaming question of the day: Can any legacy TV company streaming platforms -- Disney+, Peacock, the Paramount+, Max, et. al -- really beat Netflix, or go one better?
Legendary cable TV executive and chairman of Liberty Media John Malone, speaking recently on CNBC, says Netflix right now is almost a “basic” channel or service -- a la cable.
Given its dominance, Malone believes Netflix is not going anywhere and that it built a model for the long term. Currently, he says, 80% of its consumers stay with Netflix and don’t opt out of the service. About 20% do churn -- opting in and out depending on the shows they want to see.
But all is not lost for legacy TV/media company streamers. Malone believes creating exclusive “uniqueness” -- say, a big movie phenomenon like “Barbie” or a “Lord of the Rings” -- can yield strong gains for competing streamers.
Could any of them rise past Netflix? Malone could not answer that one.
Right now in buying into Netflix consumers know they have access to a lot of stuff -- even if they don't get the chance to watch everything on a timely basis. That is because its “library” of content never goes away.
Consider that Netflix continues to release more new shows on its streaming platform than anyone else.
And one more important thing: Bingeing.
Netflix is still highly differentiated against others. It still allows consumers to view an entire season of episodes as quickly as they want. Over a weekend, perhaps.
Legacy-based streaming media companies still work on a weekly release basis for new content.
Some years ago, Malone was a bit peeved that cable industry and TV executives as a whole blew it by letting Netflix to virtually come out of nowhere. It is now rocketing past legacy TV platforms to take the top spot in streaming, which is now the only real future for the TV business.
He seems more sanguine about whether there is still something left of legacy media.
Right now to an extent, it may be that legacy TV media finding a way to bundle with each other -- kind of like a new cable TV industry hoping to build a different entertainment consumer platform.
Malone adds: “We're in a period of rapid transition.
All of these guys... need to become creative. And the only way you can be creative is to get ideas from your brethren, you know.”
Malone believes future savings around “synergies” should be considered with each focused on one audience “demographic” group -- some of which would yield new combinations.
”So like a Disney+ together with Max might be a pretty decent combination.”
Good news here. Right now both Disney+ and Max seem to be climbing out of their massive start up costs over the last several years.
But the question is not whether they can survive on through low profitability and a middling streaming hour consumption level. Throw in another factor: A maturing streaming business making it tougher to grow.
Can anyone afford to be an also-ran, hanging in second or third place against still leading Netflix for the next decade or more?