Mic Drop #2: Five more mic drops from January 2020 Predictions
Revisiting my predictions for Discovery, CBS All-Access & Showtime, Starz, ESPN+, and DAZN.
This week, I am going back to my pre-COVID predictions for 2020, this time for 1) Discovery, (2) CBS All-Access & Showtime (3) Starz (4) ESPN+, and (5) DAZN.
Let’s revisit them nine months into 2020.
Prediction: Discovery will be the company to watch among the smaller services because of its bets on direct-to-consumer video, interactive e-commerce, and niche content
Discovery has been fascinating to watch: it went from selling investors on the success of an interactive platform with Amazon, to losing its Head of Streaming Peter Faricy in June, to exhibiting some Curse of the Mogul-type symptoms, to CEO David Zaslav selling an “SUV” streaming service.
It now faces two questions:
What territory can Discovery defend in streaming once it repurposes TV content for a digital medium?
(2) CBS AllAccess & Showtime
Prediction: CBS AllAccess is positioned for longer-term success, but will spend 2020 navigating operational challenges
ViacomCBS is rebranding CBS AllAccess as Paramount TV+, keeping Showtime as a separate app domestically but including Showtime content in the Paramount TV+ app internationally, is licensing content to other streamers, and is doing all this while scaling free ad-supported service Pluto TV, and shifting its foundations from a linear model to a digital model.
Meanwhile, Netflix is a streaming service for 150MM+ subscribers worldwide.
I think I nailed this one.
Prediction: Starz will have success with its Power franchise, and for this reason will also betray signs of franchise fatigue
The season premiere of Power Book II: Ghost, the first new series in the ‘Power Universe’, was a monster hit for Starz:
Subscriber acquisition rose 42% in the first week after the Sept. 6 premiere of the Kemp-created series, Starz said Wednesday. Minutes watched rose 91%, with 31% more subscribers viewing and customer engagement 12% above the previous high.
Viewership was 36% higher than the final season premiere of original series Powerlast summer.
The data tells the story better than I can.
Prediction: ESPN+ will grow with some help from its bundle with Disney+ and Hulu, but still faces a long uphill battle to scale
ESPN+ indeed saw a big boost in numbers back in February, seeing 6.6MM subs in Q4 2019, up from 2.4MM a year earlier. But since then, Disney has more than doubled its Disney+ users to 60MM users, but ESPN+ has grown at a stronger but slower rate of ~33%, and is currently at 8.6MM.
My concern, then, was “ESPN+'s value proposition feels messy right now.” That still feels true.
Prediction: DAZN is going to push aggressively in the U.S. with the objective of landing rights deals, but its successes will continue to be international
This has actually played to be true with or without COVID. DAZN has been hit unusually hard by COVID, laying off 2% of its global staff with an emphasis on staff in the U.S. and Brazil. It is no longer pushing aggressively in the U.S. because, as Andrew Bucholtz writes, DAZN has “faced challenges picking up other rights in the U.S., with so many top-tier rights already locked up long term.”
That said, layoffs are nothing to celebrate over, so I will focus instead on how its successes continue to be international. It announced in March it will expand its availability from nine countries to being available in “more than 200 countries and territories”. It also had a big success in August, picking up streaming rights to German Bundesliga matches in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany from 2021 to 2025.
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