A lot has transpired in the streaming industry this year, led by breakout events such as the Hollywood writers’ and actors’ strike, Netflix’s crackdown on account sharing, the release of nostalgic content and adaptations, the merger of giants like HBO Max & Discovery+, and Disney+ taking over Hulu. It was an eventful year for both viewers and creators.
In 2023, the biggest streaming trends were not exactly what people predicted a couple of years back. Instead, the industry transitioned into its next phase, focusing more on original content and putting the right dash of light on pop adaptations.
This instantly paid off great for Netflix as the streaming giant’s original film, “All Quiet on the Western Front” got its name carved in history books by winning the Oscar award for Best International Film and getting nominated in nine categories.
However, this wasn’t the streaming industry’s only win this year. It had several victories over content produced in traditional studios. As this year is about to conclude, we’re going to look at everything that shaped the entertainment and streaming trends in 2023.
The Hollywood Writers’ & Actors’ Strike
The most significant impact on the entertainment industry came from strikes led by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), which halted production for months.
Due to this, operations in Hollywood ceased as writers, actors, producers, and studios struggled with agreements on issues including compensation, royalties, and AI integration in the industry. All of this lasted for five months, from May 02 to September 27.
The strike was started for writers and actors joined in July. This led to the postponement of numerous shows and movie premieres. As a result, streaming platforms had to adjust their release schedules to maintain a steady flow of content and keep viewers engaged.
When the strike ended, the parties involved received what they were demanding. The WGA reached an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, promising an 18% rise in initial pay and a 26% increase in residual base pay for streaming project writers with budgets exceeding 30 million USD.
The SAG-AFTRA strikes ended in early November, and they reached a deal valued at over 1 billion USD with studios, including streaming participation bonuses, higher caps on health and pension funds, compensation appraisal, regulations on AI, and more.
Netflix’s Crackdown on Account Sharing
In 2022, Netflix experienced an astonishing drop of over 1.2 million subscribers. Consequently, the streaming mammoth initiated measures to limit account sharing this year in an attempt to regain market share and boost revenue.
Now, Netflix users must verify their accounts by entering a code within 15 minutes if the platform detects the account is logged in on a new device. Moreover, Netflix also cut down prices for its services in Asia and Africa and even introduced a free tier in some regions.
Additionally, the company overhauled its spending strategy. As revealed by ExpressVPN, Netflix invested around 17 billion USD annually in 2022 and 2023. Ultimately, it resulted in quality content for the viewers and a higher annual revenue for the company.
Year of Original Content & Comebacks
The Netflix original “All Quiet on the Western Front” and AppleTV+’s CODA were released exclusively on the streaming platforms and proved that they can produce quality films having the same caliber, if not more, as the traditional studios.
However, original content wasn’t the only type that impressed viewers. Re-releases, new seasons of older shows, and pop-culture adaptations also performed brilliantly. The launch of “Suits” on Netflix is a prime example of that.
The show that originally premiered between 2011 and 2019 on the USA Network became the most-watched acquired Netflix series in a single week as it amassed 3.7 billion minutes of viewership from July 3 to July 9. Eventually, Virgin River surpassed Suits in September.
Fans frequently tuned in to new seasons of their favorite TV shows, such as the second season of Ginny and Georgia, Shadow and Bone, the fourth season of You, the seventh season of Elite, and HBO’s series finale of Succession.
Alongside these, new series were also available for fans throughout the year. Amazon Freevee’s Jury Duty became a surprise hit and a highlight of the year as its clips went heavily viral on TikTok and other social media platforms.
Netflix’s Beef was another new show that earned positive remarks from both the critics and the audience. The Steven Yuen and Ali Wong starter dark comedy hit gained 1.59 billion viewing minutes in a week when it first premiered in April.
Streaming Platforms Turn Toward Adaptations
In recent years, streaming producers have turned to books, comics, mangas, and even games for inspiration, which have resulted in a spree of stunning live adaptations. HBO Max’s massive hit House of the Dragon and Prime Video’s The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power are the two biggest examples of book adaptations that premiered last year.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, The Night Agent, Shadow and Bone, and One Piece are the most admired adaptations this year. Out of these, One Piece, the live-action adaptation of a wildly popular manga, was the most successful as it became the most-viewed Netflix series in 84 countries around the world, surpassing Stranger Things.
The Last of Us is another adaptation but from a game. It proved to be a spectacular hit and broke the curse of failure that previous gaming adaptations such as Tomb Raider and Dead or Alive fell for. It held authentic material grippingly while also introducing captivating new elements simultaneously to deliver a compelling show for avid gamers.
The Merger of Streaming Giants
This year will also be remembered as the one when giants of the streaming industry, such as HBO Max and Discovery+, merged to form one of the biggest media powerhouses in the world. The newly rebranded platform is called “Max” and houses the content of both sources, such as Game of Thrones, Succession, Gold Rush, Naked & Afraid, etc.
Another big collaboration happened when Paramount Global merged Paramount+ with Showtime to introduce a new tier, replacing the free one. This new tier features cult classics like Dexter, Billions, Shameless, City on a Hill, Black Monday, and more.
One more significant consolidation happened when Disney+ announced combining the material from Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ into a single mega app. These mergers help streaming platforms share their resources, offer a more versatile and dynamic range of content to viewers, and cut the cost of production to sustain profitability.
The Rise of Niche Streaming Services
Major players like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ have dominated the streaming industry, but the trends have changed lately with the rise of niche streaming services. For context, a niche streaming service focuses only on a certain type of content.
Crunchyroll and FuboTV are the two best examples of streaming services focusing on a single niche primarily. 2023 has been an incredible year for both of them as they experienced an amazing surge in traffic and viewership.
The former focuses on anime, while the latter is specially meant for sports fans. However, the story doesn’t end here only. There are streaming services for other niches too, such as Shudder for horror, BroadwayHD for stage performances, Toon Googles for kids’ shows, Dekko for gay cinema, and oQQur for virtual tourism.
A limitation of such streaming platforms is that they aren’t available everywhere and may geo-restrict content in some regions. To solve this issue, you can use a reliable VPN service provider to unlock whatever you wish to stream without any hinderances.
Final Take: What does the future hold for streaming?
The streaming industry is undergoing a transition from being budget-friendly options to replacing TV and cinema to being their quality competitors with a wider range of content. This means a surge in pricing is imminent in the coming times. Netflix, Disney+, ESPN+, and Paramount+ have already announced an increase in their subscription prices.
Amidst these, the growth of ad-supported platforms such as Pluto TV and Amazon Freevee is expected. Many have predicted that even Netflix may introduce an ad-supported tier in the near future while Amazon Prime is already set to introduce ads in 2024.
One thing that has remained and will remain constant in the industry is the dominance of Netflix as its leader. They’re going every mile to find innovation to create excitement for their shows, movies, and documentaries to maintain their profitability.
Fans will also witness the end of platform exclusivity for more shows and movies as many HBO shows like Ballers, Six Feet Under, and Insecure are already streaming on Netflix under a new licensing agreement to churn additional revenue for Max.
One more trend that we believe is going to shoot up in the upcoming year is the streaming of live events. Netflix is already exploring it by airing comedy specials and reality show reunions. Paramount+ also joined the trend and live-streamed the 2023 MTV VMAs.
What are your predictions for the future of the streaming industry? Express your thoughts in the comments section.