Marc Randolph, co-founder and former CEO of Netflix, has been watching the streaming wars play out from the sidelines, and in his view, the brawl is finally settling down to a handful of formidable contestants.
"I've often described it kind of as like a presidential primary debate, with 40 people on the stage and everyone's shouting to be heard, but I think blessedly, we're starting to see things sorting out with two frontrunners emerging," the serial entrepreneur told Cheddar.
Those frontrunners are Disney+ and Netflix, said Randolph, whose latest venture is the new podcast "That Will Never Work," offering practical advice to startup founders.
In some ways, the rise of Disney+ took Randolph by surprise. At first, he thought the company's sprawling entertainment empire would make it difficult to bring the kind of focus to streaming that he said was the secret to Netflix's success. But since its launch, the company has taken concrete steps to bolster streaming, such as forgoing dividends to invest in the platform.
"Disney has clearly demonstrated that they're going to go all-in on streaming," he said.
However, Disney+ is clearly cutting its own path in the streaming world. Rather than embrace Netflix's binge model of releasing entire seasons at once, the platform announced over the summer that it would be releasing new episodes on a weekly basis.
Randolph speculated that this might be a necessity rather than a strategic move.
"It's a lot of pressure to all of sudden say we're going to have a full slate of full seasons and have that happen all at once, especially during COVID when production cycles were all disrupted," he said.
He added that it could also be Disney+ trying to further define its niche in streaming.
As for the size of the streamer's respective catalogs, Randolph stressed that there is no ideal ratio of original content to popular licensed franchises.
"I think that's a little bit of a false metric," he said. "Right now, everyone is trying to brag about the size of their catalogs and what they have, but as Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos often say, 'the ultimate metric is customer sat, is customer glee.' It's not how much you have, it's how good it is."