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Comcast and ViacomCBS join forces to challenge Netflix and Disney+: Streaming war set to intensify further

Comcast and ViacomCBS have announced that they will be joining together to launch a new video on-demand platform in Europe. The new streaming platform will be called SkyShowtime and combine content from both companies’ brands, including Universal, Paramount and Nickelodeon. The announcement marks the entry of another strong player into the increasingly crowded streaming market. It comes three months after it was announced that AT&T is to merge with Discovery to create a new streaming service.

As lockdown measures were enforced around the world in 2020, streaming services saw subscriber numbers surge and viewing times lengthened. Netflix and Disney+ have both seen subscriptions soar. This has led to media giants scrambling to enter the market. In May, it was announced that AT&T has entered into an agreement to merge its WarnerMedia business with Discovery. The deal will create a new streaming giant, combining WarnerMedia’s HBO and HBO Max with the Discovery+ streaming service.

Comcast and ViacomCBS have become the latest media groups to join forces and enter the streaming race.
With streaming already dominated by giants including Netflix and Disney, Comcast and ViacomCBS will collaborate to challenge them. Together they plan to launch SkyShowtime, which will combine content from both companies’ strong brands. As well as strengthening the content offering, joining forces will be more cost effective than entering the streaming wars alone. SkyShowtime will be jointly controlled and involve equal investments from Comcast and ViacomCBS. Following regulatory approval, the service is set to be released in 2022 in 22 European countries.

Following booming demand on the back of COVID-19, Netflix and Disney+ have since seen a significant slowdown in subscriber numbers. In comparison to the 15.8 million subscribers added in the first quarter of 2020, Netflix only saw its subscriber base grow by 4 million in the first quarter of 2021. This number fell below the company’s expectations. Similarly, Disney+ failed to meet market expectations in the three months to 3 April, 2021, with subscriber numbers reaching 103.6 million. This fell below Wall Street projections of 110 million.

The slowing of subscriber numbers for both of these dominant streaming services suggests that demand is saturating for these platforms. As such, the entry of a new player with a vast content library has the potential to be very well received.