In the business world, people refer to Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google as FANG – also known as the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This has been widened by many to include Apple, and while Google is now “Alphabet” the acronym has stuck as FAANG – the big companies that are changing all business through their digital prowess, market capitalization and stock performance. They are also increasingly impossible to compete against – just starting a real competitor to Netflix today would probably take a starting investment of maybe a Billion dollars.
For the film world, this is especially true – and its why Disney and Fox are merging, why AT&T wants Time Warner, and everything else you see happening. In the future, you need to own the content and the pipes to even have a chance at surviving. While everyone continues to underestimate Facebook Watch, and yes they’ve launched like amateurs, they will one day rival Netflix for where you find, watch and talk about content (movies, TV, news, likely music and everything else). Amazon, Apple (via iTunes) and Google (via YouTube) are close behind, and no one else stands a chance.
We can already see a real impact in the film world – when it comes to stellar offers for film, you’ve got Netflix and Amazon offering beaucoup bucks, and literally everyone else in the business is a second thought. Increasingly, if you aren’t on Netflix or Amazon Prime, you don’t exist to a substantial portion of the potential audience (iTunes and YouTube Red remain far behind here, and while Hulu is spending more, their subscriber base is still paltry). And bad news –while Amazon Prime takes almost anything, Netflix is buying less and less indie and doc content.
Meanwhile, nearly every OTT service that could fill the void in offering content NON (not on Netflix) struggles to gain attention or traction. Why pay for another service when it seems like you have more than enough content on Amazon Prime and Netflix, and can augment it with one-off purchases from iTunes?
Things are still shaking out, but my bet is that by 2020, FAANG will be the only names you think about when watching films (studios will still make films, and indies never quit), and it might possibly be just FAN (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix alone).