Remember When Content Was King? 2022 Was the Year Streaming Dreams Died

Bob Iger and Bob Chapek

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Disney added more than ads to Disney+ in recent weeks — it also saw the return of a beloved CEO to steer the Pirates of the Caribbean ship into calmer waters. Bob Iger’s fairly hostile take-back may not have been a total indictment of Bob Chapek’s ambitious (mis)handling of Disney+, including forecasting overly optimistic jumps in future subscriber estimates and the addition of R-rated Marvel programs to the company’s core streaming service (instead of, say, Hulu). When Disney lost $1.5 billion in streaming this past quarter alone, the board became painfully aware that Chapek was writing checks they really didn’t want to see cashed.

There are some reasons for optimism beyond the hope that the next year surely as to be better than this one. Just last week, Wells Fargo upgraded Netflix stock to a “Buy” with a price target revised from $300 per share to $400. Granted, $400 would have been seen as a disaster in December 2021; by December 2022 standards, it’s quite ambitious.

There’s also evidence that if content isn’t exactly king at Netflix, it still holds court. Last week, “Wednesday” became Netflix’s second-ever English-language TV series to cross 1 billion hours viewed within its first 28 days (it really only needed 19), which is the time period the streamer uses for historical comparisons. The other one, “Stranger Things 4,” also happened in 2022. (Korean-language series “Squid Game” from 2021 remains Netflix’s biggest series of all time — for now.)

Streaming, like 2022 somehow, ain’t dead yet. But I think we can agree: 2023 cannot come soon enough.

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