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Apple TV+ may be hit hardest by strikes as WBD’s Max fares better, says Parrot

UK-shot US comedy Ted Lasso

Apple TV+ may be hit harder than its SVoD peers by the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes, according to research and insights firm Parrot Analytics, while Warner Bros Discovery (WBD)’s Max is better placed to weather the storm.

In its streaming report card for the second quarter of 2023, Parrot noted Apple TV+ relies on original content more than its streaming peers, while a tendency for shorter seasons these days means existing content is less bingeable.

“Apple TV+ is more reliant on original programming than any other streamer and might feel the pains of a prolonged Hollywood work stoppage faster than its competitors when it no longer has new shows and movies in the can. Even if Ted Lasso proves to be as re-watchable as sitcoms like Friends or The Office, it only has 36 total episodes, compared to over 200 for each of those,” the report said.

Apple TV+ may, however, be able to recoup revenue through coverage of Major League Soccer (MLS) now that Lionel Messi has signed with Inter Miami, Parrot added.

“Just as legacy streamers and media companies will turn to American football to get through the strikes, Apple will attempt to leverage its access to elite football. Messi’s presence on the platform should lead to material revenue growth from both new subscribers who want to watch Messi and by upselling existing Apple TV+ subscribers with a discounted MLS season pass,” the report noted.

At WBD, even though new seasons of cablenet HBO’s series will be delayed due to the strikes, the company looks to be one of the best positioned to survive a prolonged labour shortage thanks to its large unscripted offering from Discovery. This means Max, the SVoD platform which combines streamers HBO Max and Discovery+, should fare better during the strikes.

“Max is now host to an increased number of reality and unscripted series thanks to taking on the majority of Discovery+’s programming. This is the kind of strike-proof content that can still provide audiences with new episodes as the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes drag on,” the report said.

“These shows are also the kind of ‘turn on in the background’ series that keeps users on the platform for longer. Warner Bros Discovery is the number two conglomerate in corporate demand share, meaning the company should be able to leverage its highly in-demand library to keep audiences engaged for the foreseeable future.”

Netflix, meanwhile, may double down on international content as a result of the strikes, Parrot said, but the company raised concerns over whether that would be enough to make up for delayed seasons of hit dramas such as Wednesday, Stranger Things and Emily in Paris.

“The global demand for streaming original content rose by 21.6% in the first half of 2023, following a brief dip in Q4 2022. Netflix has a long runway, but this growing consumer demand trend is likely to reverse if they cannot come to terms with the writers and actors in time to produce new content in the coming months,” Parrot’s report said.

Over at Disney+, Parrot warned that the streamer is continuing to struggle with generating hits outside of its primary franchise focus, leaving the service “worryingly top heavy” and creating a catalyst for the combination of Disney+ and Hulu’s libraries.

“The broader breadth of content options should theoretically serve a wider range of audiences with demand more evenly distributed throughout the catalogue,” Parrot said in its report, adding that Hulu is a “crucial piece” of Disney’s streaming portfolio.

“Coming off the back of The Bear season two’s breakout success, the streamer [Hulu] will look to keep up pace with a new season of Futurama and hit comedy Only Murders in the Building amid the ongoing Hollywood strikes,” it said.

Moving on to NBCUniversal (NBCU)-owned Peacock, Parrot raised concerns over what will happen when Paramount Global reclaims hit drama Yellowstone, which it licenses to Peacock and is one of the most in-demand scripted series on the platform.

“Whenever that deal expires, Peacock will have to replace that lost audience, either through continued licensing, leveraging NBCU’s portfolio of linear brands, or strategic original development. Planning ahead for that eventuality and leaning on a steady catalogue of Dick Wolf-produced procedurals, not to mention Bravo reality, will help Peacock round out its offering across various taste clusters,” the report said.

Parrot added that Peacock should also benefit from its slate of Universal theatrical films, such as M3gan, Cocaine Bear, Knock at the Cabin, Fast X and The Super Mario Bros Movie, while newly released Oppenheimer “is sure to draw interest once it arrives on the service later this year.”

Last but not least, Parrot pointed out that while Amazon’s Prime Video continues to license content from other companies, “it is still counting on its roster of originals to drive demand and value,” which could prove tricky as the strikes continue.

“The conclusions of The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Jack Ryan leave Prime Video without some of its marquee originals at a time when the delivery of fresh scripted content over the next several months is uncertain due to the ongoing Hollywood strikes,” Parrot’s report said.

“Looking further ahead, Amazon is undoubtedly hoping that new seasons of costly series such as Citadel and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power continue to build on their first season audience.”

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