2021 was the year streaming hit our cultural buttons

Unsurprisingly, 2020 was a record year for streaming. With people stuck at home last year, the services gained millions of new subscribers – Netflix has attracted 16 million customers in just three months, alone. This trend continued in early 2021, but the year is drawing to a close, it seems growth is slowing across the board. This suggests that if restrictions around the world ease, people may return to pre-pandemic norms.

But by and large, 2021 was still a pretty big year for streaming. Netflix has now 214 million subscribers worldwide, and services like Disney + and HBO Max attracted customers with exclusive TV shows and films. US platforms like Peacock, expanded internationally and pure online programming was well represented at several award ceremonies. Exclusive streaming titles like Squid Game and WandaVision became part of the cultural landscape. A slow year or not, it’s clear that’s how most of us see our shows now. Here are some of the biggest streaming stories this year.


Netflix continues to dominate

As mentioned earlier, Netflix is ​​the undisputed leader in streaming with over 214 million subscribers worldwide. Sure, it has faced some challenges from rivals like Disney + and Amazon Prime, but Netflix is ​​still holding up strong. Part of that is down to the company’s strategy of investing in original content that you can’t get anywhere else, like Stranger Things and The Crown.

And of course there is Squid Game, which is hands down the number one TV show of the year. Netflix said that around 142 million households watched the Korean-language show, making it the most-watched new show in Netflix history. There’s also the recently released Red Notice that too the most watched film of the service in the first 28 days after publication with around 328.8 million viewing hours during this period. That beats Bird Box’s previous record of 282 million hours of viewing in 2018.

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

Still, 2021 wasn’t without its hiccups. By far the biggest is when Netflix employees staged a protest on the CEO’s remarks defending Dave Chappelle’s stand-up special, which was heavily criticized for its transphobic content. CEO Ed Sarandos has since said that he “screwed up“In the message but has not waived his defense.



Disney + proves it’s a serious competitor

Disney +, on the other hand, currently has 118.1 million paying subscribers worldwide, which isn’t quite comparable to Netflix. But the service still gained ground in 2021, with around 43 million more subscribers compared to last year. Much of this can be attributed to Disney’s strong brands like Pixar, Star Wars, and especially in 2021 Marvel.

In 2021, the Marvel Cinematic Universe released four different TV shows, all exclusively on Disney +: WandaVision, The falcon and the winter soldier, Loki and Hawk Eye. This is a big deal as Marvel said these TV series are key to the MCU’s “Phase Four” chapter, suggesting fans will likely want to watch them in order to understand the context behind upcoming films in the same universe.

But these shows had even more to offer that made them watch. WandaVision was the first out of the gate to set the tone. The episodes should be watched weekly, as each one stimulated so-called “water cooler” discussions personally and online. This felt a lot like “anti-binging” TV as much of the appeal of these shows was the anticipation of what was going to happen next. At the very least, it showed that Disney + ‘s original content – which includes The Mandalorian and the upcoming The Book of Boba Fett – rivals that of more established platforms.

Wonder Woman 1984

Warner bros.

The direct-to-streaming revolution that it wasn’t

During the pandemic, many films avoided theatrical releases for direct-to-streaming debuts. Examples include The lovebirds, Borat subsequent film, Mulan (via paid Premier access), soul, and Wonder Woman 1984. This has continued this year as Disney + continues its paid Premier Access model with Cruella. Black widow and Jungle cruise (However, Luca did not have a Premier Access version).

The biggest move, however, was when Warner Bros. announced that every single one of its films would have a one month of exclusive access to HBO Max simultaneously with the domestic release of the film. This meant that big blockbuster films like Suicide Squad, Dune and Matrix 4 would be available on HBO Max the same day that they debuted in theaters for a full year.

While some have heralded this phenomenon as the future of entertainment, it appears to be short-lived. Disney announced a few months ago that all of its remaining 2021 films would be one 45 days ahead in theaters. This could be due to strong reactions to titles like Free Guy and Shang-Chi, but Disney may also want to avoid lawsuits like this one Scarlett Johansson submitted for breach of contract with shortened theatrical releases. Warner Bros. said that too it goes back to the first theatrical releases in 2022. It looks like the direct-to-streaming revolution isn’t quite here yet.

Other notable streaming news

  • Paramount + replaces CBS All Accesswhich essentially opens the service to other ViacomCBS channels like Comedy Central and VH1, as well as to Paramount’s existing movie library.

  • Discovery + celebrates its premiere. The service features content from HGTV, Food Network, Animal Planet, TLC, the Magnolia Network, and Discovery.

  • AT&T has spun off its WarnerMedia division and merged with Discovery in a $ 43 billion deal. The new company will combine Warner’s film divisions, HBO Max and Discovery +.

  • Roku bought Quibi’s shows and released some of them as “Roku originals. “

  • year YouTube TV pulled from his channel store in the middle of a contract dispute with Google. The latter apparently demanded priority placement in the search results and wanted to block results from other providers while using the app. From December 8th, both parties have finally come to an agreement to an extension of several years.

  • In other notable YouTube TV news, The service recently lost access to all Disney channels, which includes ESPN, ABC and FX as Google and Disney didn’t reach a deal. But after a few days it is two companies have reconciled and reached an agreement, which will restore all of the above channels. When YouTube TV initially lost those channels, Google cut the price of the service by $ 15 (from $ 65 to $ 50 in the base package). Now the price is back to normal. However, if users have already initiated the cancellation process, Google will still redeem the $ 15 one-time credit when they resume membership.

  • WWE network ceased operations as most of the contents were moved to Peacock.

  • Peacock has been broadcast live several times Olympia Sports events as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.

  • Universal made a deal where peacock and Amazon Prime Video would have some streaming rights for its live action films after its theatrical release. They would air on Peacock for four months, then on Prime Video for 10 months, and then back to Peacock for at least another four months. This will come into force in 2022.

  • Netflix won exclusive streaming rights on all upcoming Sony films, including the upcoming Spider-Man franchise titles.

  • Peacock debuts in the UK and Ireland.

What you can look forward to in 2022

While growth in streaming may be slowing, there are still plenty of shows and movies to be expected in the next year. Netflix has confirmed that the aforementioned Sandman will be released in 2022, as well as The Witcher: Blood Origin and new seasons of favorites like Stranger Things, The Crown and Ozark. Disney + will be his MCU run of TV shows with Mrs. Marvel and will also introduce a couple of Star Wars series: Obi Wan Kenobi and Andor. Perhaps the two biggest TV series to look forward to, however, are HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series. House of the Dragon, and Amazon’s epic Lord of the Rings serieswhich plays thousands of years before the hobbit.

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