The 2022 Content Wars

05 January, 2022 

Consumers are spoilt for choice when it comes to content; on any one streaming service there is more content than any person could ever get through. The vast number of hours of content out there, as well as an increasing number of streaming services available, means AVOD and SVOD services must work increasingly hard to stand out. 

The biggest players, like Netflix, have the budget to create a huge breadth of content, but other nascent services must take a more targeted approach.Here VideoWeek, breaks down how various streaming services are approaching their content strategy in 2022. 

Netflix

Budget: Netflix spent $17 billion on content in 2021. The streaming giant has not laid out exactly how much it intends to spend this year; however, in a recent earnings call the company indicated that it intends to significantly grow its content spend. In answer to a suggestion that Netflix would double or triple its content budget, co-CEO Reed Hastings said that this was “thinking too small” in its long-term goal of “entertaining the world”.  

Markets: Netflix is available everywhere except China, Crimea, North Korea and Syria.

Upcoming Content: In 2022, Netflix will release new seasons of hit shows including Bridgerton, Stranger Things and The Crown. 

Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said that in Q4 2021 the company made its “biggest film bets ever”, with titles like Red Notice and Don’t Look Up. The CEO said the company intends to continue on this pathway. 

In 2021, Netflix branched out into gaming.  It has launched five games globally, available on the mobile app for no additional cost to subscribers. 

Content Direction: The production of more local and non-English language content has been a focus for Netflix for a number of years now, and the global success of Squid Game showed how that strategy can pay dividends. Netflix said that it expects to produce content in over 50 countries in 2022. 

Animation is another area in which the SVOD service has been investing more heavily in. In Netflix’s most recent earnings call CFO Spence Neumann indicated that the company was “just a few years into a long cycle” of producing animation content. 

In terms of its gaming content, Netflix is adding three new titles to its mobile offering. Hextech Mayhem: A League of Legends Story, Arcanium: Rise of Akhan and Krispee Street arrive on Netflix this month. 

Disney+

Budget: Disney has said that it plans to spend $33 billion on content in the fiscal year 2022, which began in October. That represents an $8 billion increase from 2021. How much of that will go on Disney+ is unclear. However, the company did say that it would invest the extra money in its direct-to-consumer offerings; Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu. 

Markets: Disney+ is available in over 60 markets. In 2022 it intends to roll-out further into APAC and Eastern Europe. By the end of 2023, Disney says it will have expanded the SVOD service to over 160 countries. 

Upcoming Content: Disney+ is using wealth of intellectual property to its advantage in the content wars. The Marvel and Star Wars franchises will provide a great deal of content for the SVOD service in the coming year. The Book of Boba-Fett and Endor are some of the titles which will premiere from the Star Wars universe in 2022. 

Disney+ will also release remakes or sequels of some of its classic titles, such as a sequel to Hocus Pocus and a retelling of Pinocchio. 

Content Strategy: Disney estimates that in 2022 it will produce around 60 unscripted series, 30 comedy series and 25 drama shows. Again it did not break down which of these will appear on Disney+, but it restated its focus on its DTC offerings. 

In 2021, Disney+ launched Star, a part of the SVOD service that focused on content aimed at adults. While a large part of the Star offering has so far been acquired content, in 2022 Disney+ will seek to bolster their original offerings on the service. Programming such as How I Met Your Father (inspired by hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother) and films like romcom Rosaline will be among the new releases. 

Amazon Prime Video

Budget: Amazon mostly stays tight-lipped about its exact spending on Prime Video. However, in April last year, it revealed that it spent $11 billion on TV, music and movies for its Prime services in 2020. In the last two years, we can assume that Amazon has upped that figure, at least slightly, in a bid to keep up with other streaming services.

Markets: Available in all markets except mainland China, Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

Upcoming Content: Amazon Prime Video is set to release new seasons of some of its most popular shows in 2022, including The Marvellous Mrs Maisel and The Boys. It has also commissioned some new series to be released this year, including a Lord of the Rings series and Reacher. 

Content Strategy: Sport is one area in which Amazon Prime Video has been investing, particularly in Europe. Amazon has inked sports broadcasting deals, including to broadcast Ligue 1 in France. The SVOD service also has some rights for the NFL, English Premier League and Champions League.

HBO Max

Budget: Wells Fargo estimated that in 2021, WarnerMedia spent $1.8 billion of its $16.7 billion content budget on HBO Max. The figure likely remains around the same for 2022. 

Markets: HBO Max is in the US and in some Latin American countries. In October 2021, it also launched in six European countries; Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Andorra. It is rolling out in more of Europe this year. 

Upcoming Content: HBO Max is looking to build on its strengths from previous years in 2022. For example, a Game of Thrones spin-off series, House of Dragon, and a new series of Westworld will be released. 

In 2021, Warner Bros experimented with releasing big-budget movies both in cinemas and to HBO Max simultaneously. In 2022, the company said it was returning to cinema-only releases, but it has said it will release 10 films straight onto HBO Max. Six of these films have so far been announced; these include Stephen Sorderbergh thriller Kimi and a remake of 80s comedy, House Party. 

Content Strategy: Quality dramas have been, and will continue to be a central pillar of HBO Max’s strategy. However, in order to grow its subscriber base, HBO Max will likely have to diversify it content library. 

The expansion into other territories outside the US means HBO Max will need to produce more localised content. There will be more of a focus on unscripted content in Europe and elsewhere. Antony Root, EVP of original programming & production at WarnerMedia, said in August last year that HBO Max would focus on unscripted TV that “had some sort of event” to capture attention. He said that by the end of 2023, the streamer wanted to be producing 12 unscripted shows a year from Europe. 

Apple TV+

Budget: The content budget for Apple TV+ is dwarfed by juggernauts like Netflix and Disney+. It is estimated to have been around $6.5 billion last year. However, the service is keen to up their content offering, meaning it will likely also increase its spend. 

Markets: Apple TV+ is available in 106 countries. 

Upcoming content:  After something of a disappointing 2020, Apple TV+ saw more success in 2021. Ted Lasso was by far the most successful content of the year for the streamer. Apple said that the second series, released in 2021, attracted six times more viewers than the first series had. 

Apple will be hoping it can replicate the success of Ted Lasso with its new comedy series commissions. 2022 releases will include dark workplace comedy Severance and The Afterparty, a murder mystery comedy. 

Content Strategy: Unlike its SVOD service competitors, Apple TV+ does not licence content from other producers. Instead it has been building up its library with original films and TV shows gradually since its launch in November 2019. Apple’s streaming service therefore has a comparatively small library of content, and so it faces questions going forward about whether it should up its level of production and risk jeopardising its reputation for high quality content.

NBCUniversal's PeacockPeacock

Budget: At launch, Comcast pledged roughly $1 billion per year for four years to get Peacock off the ground, though this covers both content and marketing. Wells Fargo estimated that the company spent about $677 million on Peacock content in 2021. 

Markets: Until November 2021, Peacock was only available in the US. But the service has now soft-launched in the UK and Ireland through Sky. 

Upcoming Content: A reboot of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is due to be released on the service this year. January will also see the release of original content like Wolf Like Me and Supernatural Academy. 

Universal will also be releasing their cinema releases onto Peacock, 45 days after their theatre debuts. Titles up for release this year include Ticket to Paradise starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts and Marry Me with Jennifer Lopez and Owen Wilson.

Content Strategy: A leaked pitch deck from last year showed that Peacock plans to appeal to the “fan” in 2022. What this means in practice is a focus on being a home for sports fans, suggesting the streaming service may invest further in sports deals. 

 

2022-01-05T12:18:34+01:00

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