The rapid rise of video streaming services over the past few years is affecting TV networks, pay-tv providers and other industry players in more ways than one. Not only do Netflix, Amazon and other online companies lure viewers away from traditional TV, they also shake up the status quo in the content market. Between 2014 and 2017, prices for distribution rights of independent films shown at the Sundance Film Festival increased sharply, a development widely attributed to Netflix and Amazon joining the bidding with big pockets. And it’s not just distribution rights that streaming companies are gobbling up: they also sign deals with acclaimed showrunners, screenwriters, actors and directors left and right in an effort to build up their original content libraries.
According to a presentation given by renowned media analyst Michael Nathanson of MoffettNathanson Research, Disney was the biggest content spender last year, with programming expenses amounting to $18.7 billion. The iconic media giant recently launched its own streaming service Disney+, which will eventually become the exclusive streaming home to the company’s vast content library. Comcast (owner of NBCUniversal) and AT&T (Warner Media) also spent $10+ billion on content in 2019, while Netflix’s content budget was estimated at $9.2 billion.