2021 was the year in which streaming pressed our cultural buttons

To no one’s surprise, 2020 was the peak year for streaming. Since people got stuck at home last year, the service had millions of new subscribers – Netflix alone attracted 16 million users in just three months. At the beginning of 2021, this trend continued, but as the year draws to a close, growth seems to be slowing down. This suggests that as restrictions are eased around the world, people may be returning to normal before the pandemic.

But overall, 2021 was still a pretty big year for streaming. Netflix now has 214 million global subscribers, and services such as Disney + and HBO Max have attracted customers with exclusive TV shows and movies. American platforms, such as Peacock, have expanded internationally and online-only programming has been well represented at multiple awards. Exclusive titles for streaming, such as Squid game i WandaVision, became part of the cultural landscape. Slow year or not, it is clear that most of us now watch our shows like this. Here are some of the biggest streaming stories this year.


Netflix continues to dominate

As mentioned above, Netflix is ​​the undisputed leader in streaming with over 214 million subscribers worldwide. Sure, it has faced several challenges from rivals such as Disney + and Amazon Prime, but Netflix still holds strong. Part of this is due to the company’s strategy of investing in original content that you can’t get anywhere else, e.g. Stranger Things i The Crown.

And of course, there is Squid game which is undoubtedly the number one TV show of the year. Netflix said about 142 million households watched the show in Korean, making it the most-watched new show in Netflix history. It was also recently published there Red Notice, which became the most watched film of the service in the first 28 days of release, with about 328.8 million hours of viewing in that time period. That is above the previous record Bird Box, which in 2018 had 282 million hours of viewing.

Things don’t seem to be slowing down either. Netflix has signed multi-year contracts with big names like Kevin Hart and Steven Spielberg, has exclusive rights to Universal Animated Films, and has bought the rights to Roald Dahl’s entire catalog. this phenomenon

However, 2021 did not pass without hiccups. The biggest case so far has been when Netflix employees staged a protest over remarks by CEO defending standup special Dave Chappelle, who has been fiercely criticized for his transphobic content. CEO Ed Sarandos has since said he “screwed up” the messages, but did not withdraw his defense.



Disney + proves to be a serious candidate

Disney +, on the other hand, currently has 118.1 million paid subscribers worldwide, which isn’t exactly comparable to Netflix. But the service continued to improve in 2021, with about 43 million more subscribers than last year. Much can be attributed to Disney’s powerful brands such as Pixar, Star Wars and, especially 2021, Marvel.

The year 2021 was when Marvel Cinematic Universe released four different TV shows, all exclusively on Disney +: WandaVision, Falcon and winter soldier, Loki i Hawkeye. This is a great thing, because Marvel said that these TV series are crucial for the “Phase Four” chapter of the MCU, which indicates that fans will probably want to watch them to understand the context behind the upcoming films set in the same universe.

But there were more in these shows that made them necessary to watch. As the first behind the gate, WandaVision set the tone. The episodes were supposed to be watched every week, as each one sparked so-called discussions about the “water cooler” in a personal and online relationship. This was similar to “anti-binging” TV, because much of the appeal of these shows lies in anticipation of what will happen next. At the very least, Disney + has proven to be a list of original content – which also includes Mandalorac and coming Bob Fett’s book – could be maintained in relation to those of established platforms.

Wonder Woman 1984

Warner Bros.

A direct streaming revolution that was not

During the heavy pandemic, many films avoided showing in theaters due to their direct debut in streaming. Examples include The Lovebirds, Borat Subsequent film, Mulan (via paid Premier access), Soul, i Wonder Woman 1984. This continued this year as well, with Disney + continuing its paid Premier Access model Cruella, Black widow i Jungle cruise (Lucahowever, it did not have a Premier Access edition).

The biggest move, however, was when Warner Bros. announced that each of his films in 2021 will have a one-month exclusive period of access to HBO Max at the same time as domestic film release. That meant big blockbuster movies loved it Suicide Squad, Dune i Matrix 4 will be available on HBO Max the same day they debuted in theaters for the whole year.

While some may have announced this phenomenon as the future of entertainment, it seems to be short-lived. Disney revealed a few months ago that all of his remaining 2021 films will gain a 45-day cinema advantage. This could be due to strong reactions to headlines like Free Guy i Shang-Chi, but Disney could also avoid lawsuits like the one Scarlett Johansson filed for breach of contract due to shortened movie releases. Warner Bros. he also said he was returning to the first cinemas in 2022. The live streaming revolution doesn’t seem to have arrived yet.

Other significant streaming news

  • Paramount + replaces CBS All Access, which essentially opens up the service to other ViacomCBS channels, such as Comedy Central and VH1, plus Paramount’s existing movie library.

  • Discovery + debuts. The service contains content from HGTV, Food Network, Animal Planet, TLC, Magnolia Network and Discovery.

  • AT&T has singled out its WarnerMedia division and merged it with Discovery in a $ 43 billion contract. The new company will combine Warner’s film division, HBO Max and Discovery +.

  • Roku bought Quibi shows and released some of them as “Roku Originals”.

  • Roku withdrew YouTube TV from his channel store due to a dispute over a contract with Google. The latter was obviously looking for priority in search results and wanted to block the results of other providers while the app was in use. As of December 8, both sides have finally agreed to a multi-year extension.

  • In other significant YouTube TV news, the service recently lost access to all Disney channels, including ESPN, ABC and FX, as Google and Disney failed to reach an agreement. However, after only a few days, the two companies reconciled and reached an agreement, which renewed all the mentioned channels. When YouTube TV originally lost those channels, Google lowered the price of the service by $ 15 (from $ 65 to $ 50 in the basic package). Now the price has returned to normal. However, if users have already initiated the cancellation process, Google will continue to pay a one-time $ 15 credit if they continue their membership.

  • The WWE network has stopped working because most of its content has been moved to Peacock.

  • Peacock broadcast several sporting events at the Olympics live, as well as opening and closing ceremonies.

  • Universal has reached an agreement that Peacock and Amazon Prime Video will have some streaming rights for their films live after they are shown in cinemas. They would air on Peacock for four months, then on Prime Video for 10 months, and then return to Peacock for at least another four months. This will take effect in 2022.

  • Netflix has been granted exclusive streaming rights to all Sony upcoming movies, including upcoming Spider-Man titles.

  • Peacock debuts in the UK and Ireland.

What to look forward to in 2022

Although the growth of streaming could slow down, there are still many shows and movies to be expected next year. Netflix has confirmed this Sandman will be published in 2022, as well The Witcher: Blood Origin and new season favorites like Stranger Things, The Crown i Ozark. Disney + will continue its MCU series of TV shows Mrs. Marvel, and will present several Star Wars series: Obi-Wan Kenobi i Andor. However, perhaps the two biggest TV series you have to get excited about are HBO’s prequel series Game of Thrones, Dragon houseand the Amazon epic Lord of the Rings series, which is set thousands of years earlier The Hobbit.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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