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The Streaming Wars have been aggravating for years. Primarily, it was Netflix’s dominant game, as the renowned service effectively defined the notion of streaming as we now know it before anyone even tried to enter the competitive landscape. But as the media giants started launching their own OTT platforms, the landscape has expanded and shifted – gradually at first but increasingly fast of late. So, who’s winning the streaming wars, and what does this mean for the future of streaming? 

If everyone has a streaming service, it becomes formidable for any one company to hold onto the licensing titles, so virtually every streaming platform needs exclusive and original content. Would one main streaming platform and one or two complementary services be enough to win the streaming wars? We are approaching a new reality with streaming bundles that will replace cable packages. 

Netflix launched its VOD (Video on Demand) offerings in 2007, but the new players such as Disney Plus, Hulu, Apple TV Plus, and HBO Max might fare in the ongoing streaming battles. In addition, although Netflix is available worldwide now, with the advent of VPN, you can watch geo-restricted streaming platforms anywhere, like Hulu in Philippines, HBO Max in Mexico, and many more. 

Netflix as a Streaming War Leader

For a decade, Netflix was an unchallenged leader in the streaming wars. Or at least that’s the popular public narrative. In reality, Hulu was launched in 2007, the same year Netflix expanded its operations and its streaming service. The big difference between the streaming platforms is that Hulu started from scratch to establish a brand in a virtually non-existent landscape. Meanwhile, Netflix had a public image. Netflix was never the only streaming giant in town, but it concocted its supremacy early on. 

Netflix already had a decade’s brand value tied to home entertainment. Long before it became the streaming leader we know today. As Netflix grew as a streaming service, so did Hulu, eventually acquired by Disney in 2019. During that time, other companies tried entering the streaming landscape by offering new and original content, captivating library titles, or a hybrid version of both. Some got outdated and burned, like Quibi, and others carved out small niches in the mass streaming market for themselves. 

Others have begun contesting with Netflix for the top spot. They are struggling, but a rapid change has been observed in the last few years, with Netflix taking a huge dive in its perceived value among the users, and that could mean the entrance of major disruptors in the streaming market. However, Netflix claims to hold the title of Streaming Leader, but it is important to assess the streaming landscape of the US and understand who might be a significant threat to Netflix in the future. 

Emerging Players in the Streaming Landscape 


Hulu has been a significant competitor of Netflix for years. As the streaming landscape began to shift in 2019 and 2020, Netflix is still dominant and possesses twice as much of the streaming market as Hulu, but together the two streaming services account for more than half of the streaming subscribers in the US. Hulu is quite identical to Netflix as it offers a mix of original content and licensed library titles, like the brilliant “The Kardashians” and the award-winning “The Handmaid’s Tale.”  

A major competitive difference between Netflix and Hulu is pricing. The Disney-owned streaming service offers an ad-supported plan for just $6.99 per month, which is far below Netflix’s exclusively ad-free subscription plans, which start at $9.99 and go up to $19.99. Hulu also offers a degree of immediacy – some shows are streamed weekly with a limited delay between streaming availability and original broadcast. 

Disney Plus

Disney Plus is one of the fastest-growing streaming services and a competitor of Netflix. Like Hulu and Netflix, Disney Plus offers a mix of original content and library titles. But the streaming service isn’t licensing the renowned new NBC or Showtime content to stream alongside animated classics. It’s the strategy of Disney, and even its Disney-owned shows are limited to certain Disney brands. 

In the United States, that means 20th Century and FX studios’ content is mostly available on Hulu and other streaming services. On Disney Plus, you can find Marvel, Lucasfilm, Disney Channel, and National Geographic titles, as well as a few flicks like The Simpsons. Moreover, it also includes new and classic content like Marvel’s series as well as Star Wars shows. 

Other Competitors

Other than Hulu and Disney Plus, there are many other competitors, such as Amazon Prime, Voot, Kayo Sports, and many more. This many new players mean the competitive power is shifting in the streaming landscape. The Antenna is a major analytics firm that specializes in studies of streaming services subscriptions. It reported that major changes had been observed in the streaming service market shares in recent years, which means that some big changes are yet to be experienced in the future of streaming. 

In 2021, streaming services experienced a jump of 57% in new subscriptions compared to the last year. New competitors such as Discovery Plus, Peacock TV, Paramount Plus, and Apple TV represented 82% of that significant growth. These facts illustrate that the playing field is leveling and streaming giants like Netflix, Hulu, and Disney Plus barely grew in that period. 


Although Netflix is still the Streaming Landscape King but is mushrooming slower than some of its contemporaries, it’s substantial to note that these numbers only represent the streaming landscape of the US. Some of the abovementioned streaming services are available across the globe or in more than one country. The following breakdown offers a good illustration of how they compare when provided in identical markets. 

We can observe the fluctuations in the distribution of subscribers and how the consumers oscillate between the services that have more original content and title libraries. A rising streaming tide is going to lift all the boats. However, Netflix does not have much to expand or rise. It is certainly not dipping, but neither is it likely to be the uncontested protagonist of the streaming wars forever.