Stream Wars


Riley Young, Features Editor

It seems simple enough. You decide on a movie you want to watch, and because we live in an era of instant everything, internet, food, music, and other media, just fire up your favorite streaming device and movie bliss lay ahead, right?

Well, hold your horses there, buckaroo …. 

Who’s the owner and distributor of that movie? Why should that matter? Let’s talk a little about why that matters more today than it ever has. 

Before streaming was commonplace, we mostly watched whatever the local TV provider had scheduled, or drove to the video rental store.

Video rental stores were everywhere for many years. The Internet was also around for many years, but it wasn’t until high-speed Internet was more commonplace that people found they could download media files and it wouldn’t take hours or even days to do it. This caused video rental stores to close as fewer people were renting physical copies of the videos. 

This all takes us back to the streaming topic. Movie studios and content companies started realizing they didn’t have to go to the expense of making and shipping physical copies. They started licensing out their popular shows to streaming companies. 

One of the earliest streaming companies is Netflix. Netflix started as a way to rent physical DVDs over the Internet by mail.

When the Internet going to our homes got faster, and the technology finally caught up with it, Netflix offered a subscription service where viewers could stream shows directly to their houses over their Internet connection.

This proved very popular. Netflix then decided to start making its own movies and content, and soon opened its own studio.  

The movie studios and large media companies all decided that licensing out their movies and television shows to other companies like Netflix was profitable but could be more profitable if they were to start their own streaming services. 

Today there are over 200 streaming services across the world all wanting you to sign up for their streaming service.

Want to watch Star Wars or Marvel programs? You’ll need Disney Plus. Do you like watching Cartoon Network shows? HBOMax is what you’ll need. Want to watch the Rings of Power Lord of the Rings series? Amazon’s Prime Video is your streaming choice. Really like Stranger Things? Well, you need Netflix to watch that. 

Simply trying to watch a movie now is difficult because one may not have a subscription to the right service, or maybe that movie or series isn’t even on the same service it was on last month.

Star Trek movies are a good example. The owner of Star Trek is Paramount. It would make sense that Paramount Plus should be their home. Right now all but two of the Star Trek movies are on HBOMax. They moved from Paramount Plus to HBOMax in October. 

Do you like Harry Potter? Well, Warner Brothers own Harry Potter, and they also own HBOMax. But oddly the Harry Potter movies left HBOMax for a number of months and were only available on Peacock. 

Confusing, right? It’s all because of licensing deals and where these companies think they can earn more money for their content. 

So what does that mean to us simply wanting to watch a movie? We need to know:

  • Is it available to stream? 
  • What streaming service is it on? 
  • Do we subscribe to that streaming service? 
  • Do we have the app required to stream it?

Only then can we sit back with our popcorn and watch the movie.