Welcome to the March edition of our monthly streaming power rankings! Here we take a look at the growing number of media companies with a streaming platform, what they did this past month, and then (of course) we rank them appropriately.
You can see the February Streaming Power Rankings here.
First, the honorable mentions…
ESPN + inked a series of deal in March including exclusive rights to UFC pay-per-view events, a 12 year $1 billion dollar deal with the American Athletic Conference, and a marquee baseball match up daily. Sports!
While we are still waiting on an official release date and pricing for Disney’s new streaming platform, the media giant completed their acquisition of 21st Century Fox this month and announced that the entire previous vault of Disney movies will be available on Disney Plus.
This month Apple announced the worst kept secret in show business – that their own streaming platform is coming later this year. Similar to Disney we are still waiting on pricing and official release date but Apple is already trying to position themselves in the same lane as HBO as the home for premiere television by assembling an impressive lineup of stars.
After lowering the price of their lowest tier package last month Hulu lowered the price of their bundled package with Spotify that includes Spotify Premium and Hulu’s ad-included programming from $12.99 to $9.99 a month. This move helps Hulu continue to bring new subscribers in the door and is objectively a really good deal for consumers!
Hulu also announced in March that they are capping advertising breaks to 90 seconds as opposed to their current model where breaks in programming can range all the way up to 180 or 240 second intervals. The move is for consumer clarity, consistency, and ultimately a better viewer experience. Speaking of a better experience – Hulu this month also made four of their original programming shows availability with descriptive audio tracks for those with visual impairments! Here’s to many more added to that list in the coming months.
In terms of original programming Hulu launched two premiere shows in Shrill, staring SNL’s Aidy Bryant, and The Act, which follows the real-life story of Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard which has already begun to receive critical acclaim.
Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox also included a stake in Hulu which is big news as Disney’s CEO Bob Iger has previously discussed taking Hulu to an international audience.
According to a study by Brand Finance, Netflix is the fastest growing brand in the United States this year. Even though they still find themselves at 40th overall behind competitors like Disney at #10 and Amazon at #1 the speed in which they are closing the gap is nothing to scoff at. This study late in the month was a nice bounce back after Netflix’s post Oscar season started with a Steven Spielberg sized stumble. Spielberg reportedly is devoted to ensuring that the Oscar race never sees another Roma. Netflix replied to this report with the following tweet:
While not calling out the award winner director, Netflix clearly aimed this tweet missile his way. It will be interesting to see what Spielberg has up his sleeve to slow down the behemoth that is Netflix.
This month we also got the long awaited trailer for the third season of the Netflix original series Stranger Things:
Meanwhile Netflix also has continued their tech advancements by trying out mobile only subscriptions in India and experimenting with the episode order of their new anthology series Love, Death & Robots.
It is very hard to make appointment television anymore and yet HBO continues to deliver time and time again. This month it was Leaving Neverland, a two part documentary following the alleged sexual abuse of two boys by Michael Jackson. In an incredibly fragmented media market the documentary managed to capture the nation with reverberations still being felt weeks later and the question of separating the art from the artist is back in the forefront of many internet think pieces.
At the very end of the month the final season of VEEP and the second season of Barry returned to power up HBO’s Sunday night lineup in anticipation for the return of Game of Thrones in a few short weeks. But while we wait for Game of Thrones people around the world had a good time searching for six replicas of the iron throne that were spread across the globe and preparing for the the feature length Game of Thrones documentary coming immediately after the series finale.
HBO takes the crown this month and let’s be honest they will next month as well.