CODA, an Apple film, won the Academy Award for Best Picture, defeating Netflix to become the first streaming service to win Hollywood’s most coveted film award. Netflix’s film The Power of the Dog was also nominated in the category, and the two streaming services were considered the frontrunners in the category heading into Sunday’s awards presentation.
Even while competition between Apple TV Plus, Netflix, and their rivals grows fiercer than ever, Apple’s win is sure to give the fledgling streaming service a boost among prospective subscribers.
Several companies have spent billions of dollars in the last three years developing new services in the hopes of competing with Netflix to determine the future of television. For those like you, this has meant sorting through and paying for a slew of services while you find out where you want to watch movies and TV online.
Apple’s Oscar triumph on Sunday will increase the company’s profile among some potential subscribers, may entice some lapsed subscribers back into the fold, and will almost certainly make Apple TV Plus a more appealing home for top talent.
However, becoming the first to win an elusive prize isn’t always a game-changer for streaming services.
Hulu, for example, beat Netflix to win the best-drama Emmy in 2017, but has since been overshadowed by Netflix’s dominance: Netflix has more than 221 million global members, while Hulu has 45 million. And Apple TV Plus could be much smaller.
Apple has never said how many people subscribe to Apple TV Plus, but The Information estimated last summer that the service had around 40 million customers, many of whom were taking advantage of Apple’s generous free trials.
According to one researcher, 62 percent of Apple TV Plus accounts were using the service for free as part of a promotion.
Since then, Apple has removed many of those free promotional subscriptions, which according to another study resulted in Apple TV Plus losing the most customers last year. And Apple, which is less than three years old, is still figuring out how to compete in today’s crowded streaming services.
With a multibillion-dollar budget to attract some of Hollywood’s top names, Apple TV Plus took an unusual approach: it focused solely on big-budget, star-studded prestige originals.
Apple TV Plus had only nine titles to watch when it first arrived, with no back catalogue to dig into. It has amassed over 100 titles in the two and a half years since then. Netflix, on the other hand, is releasing over 100 titles in just the months of February, March, and April.
Netflix is the undisputed king of streaming, thanks to a combination of first-mover advantage, aggressive expenditure, and a willingness to challenge long-held conventions. However, the last of them has proven to be a liability when it comes to pursuing Hollywood’s most prestigious awards.
For years, the service has been pursuing an Oscar for best picture. Netflix received its first Oscar nomination in 2014 for a documentary feature and won its first Oscar in 2017 for a documentary short since it began producing its own programming a decade ago.
Netflix was the most successful studio at the Oscars last year, bringing home seven awards, but the best picture trophy remained elusive. This year and previous, “streaming” films fared well at the Academy Awards.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which oversees the Oscars, modified its eligibility requirements in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, making it easier for streaming-only titles to be nominated.
During the epidemic, the unprecedented manner in which movies were released blurred the distinctions between what is a streaming movie and what is not. Traditional studio films typically have strict release windows that keep them exclusively in theatres for six to nine months.
That was thrown out the window across the board during the pandemic. It made Oscar pictures more available to view at home than ever before in the last two years, but it also muddled the definition of a streaming movie.
Apple’s massive Oscars win, on the other hand, will undoubtedly confirm that its pursuit of quality programming is paying off, with significant honours to match.