For a long time, Netflix was not worried about its streaming rivals. Most competitors were either US-centric plays, like Hulu, or much smaller offerings, like HBO. There was enough room for everybody to win. “We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO,” Netflix told investors last year.
But that’s changing. Already competing with the likes of Amazon for eyeballs, Netflix is now being hit with a new wave of global streaming services, built and backed by massive media companies with infrastructures capable of striking fear into the hearts of Netflix executives. That doesn’t mean these new platforms will necessarily impact Netflix’s 182 million subscribers—or that they’ll even be successful at all. But for the first time, Netflix is acknowledging the potential headwinds to its growth.
It took Disney only about a month to get Netflix to address its competition in a way it had never done in nearly a decade of streaming. In a letter to shareholders (pdf) last quarter, shortly after the launch of Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, in the US, Netflix admitted: “Our low membership growth in UCAN [United States and Canada] is probably due to our recent price changes and to US competitive launches.”