Quality over Quantity: HBO Max, Netflix, and Disney+

L-R: Economos (Steve Agee), Harcourt (Jennifer Holland), Murn (Chukwudi Iwuji), Adebayo (Danielle Brooks), Vigilante (Freddie Stroma), Peacemaker (John Cena) (Katie Yu/HBO Max)

With all of the issues surrounding HBO Max these days, the need to focus on quality over quantity could never be more true.

Thursday’s earnings call shows the direction of HBO Max and it’s not one of churning content out just to churn it out. There’s already way too much content out there. You’d be surprised how many people decide to skip the new stuff in lieu of rewatching their favorite programs again. While I don’t really have a problem with the quality over quantity approach, my problem is with their recent decisions to cancel titles that were already in post-production. If they didn’t think Batgirl fit into their streaming strategy, why not rework the film into a theatrical release? Between a Latina lead and a transgender character, this film would have been a proven winner at the box office. I can’t quite say the same for Scoob! Holiday Haunt though.

Is their overall strategy the right strategy? I can’t answer that. I find it perplexing that they are cutting across the board in family programming. Do families not watch streaming or are they just not watching at the preferred numbers? Something I stress time and time again is that numbers are everything. This is true for broadcast, cable, and streaming. If a series cannot get an audience, it’s as good as gone. With the amount of people who time shift, I always worry that the ratings won’t be enough to get a series renewed. NBC pushed La Brea so much during the Olympics last year that it piqued my interest. I was worried that it wouldn’t get a second season but thankfully, season 2 will arrive on September 27. With the amount of quality programs on streaming, broadcast networks must fight to get my attention.

This isn’t just limited to HBO Max. The same problem is happening with Netflix and their earnings and revenue have suffered in comparison. Both platforms are churning out a lot of content. The problem with this approach is that it leaves audiences with too much content to keep up with. It’s one thing to view it as content but at the end of the day, audiences need time to watch. I’m lucky that my job allows me to sit down and binge watch before the series launches on HBO Max, Peacock, etc. You cannot say the same about the average viewer. They have to wait each week for a new episode. Case in point: Hulu sent press the final episodes of Only Murders In The Building and the series is still in the middle of streaming its second season.

Ewan McGregor in Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) in Lucasfilm’s OBI-WAN KENOBI, exclusively on Disney+. © 2022 Lucasfilm Ltd. & ™. All Rights Reserved.

The Disney+ and Hulu approach is working. They are not at the level of churning out an absurd amount of content. Instead, the two Disney platforms are focusing on quality over quantity with their programming. If you regularly follow Solzy at the Movies, you know that I publish the streaming listings each month. However, Disney+ is the one platform that I do not do on a regular basis. Part of this is due to how little content they release each month. Moreover, after their August press announcement went out, they announced even more titles for the month of August. In one instance, they moved She-Hulk: Attorney at Law from Wednesday to Thursday. The move is also a great example of Disney realizing that She-Hulk should not conflict weekly with Andor.

For the most part, Disney+ is adding a number of library titles in August. There is not much to offer in In terms of new content. Marvel fans will get a documentary on the making of Ms. Marvel, I Am Groot, and weekly episodes of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. The only other weekly series in August is High School: The Musical: The Series. Star Wars fans get a new special with LEGO Star Wars Summer Vacation. After Thursday’s episode of The Orville: New Horizons, all three seasons will be making their arrival on Disney+.

Like Disney+, Hulu is in a similar position. There are only five originals launching during the month of August. This doesn’t take into account the series launched in June or July. Only Murders will finish streaming its second season on August 23. The Orville just finished on August 4. We’ll see what September has to offer.

When I take a look at the Netflix listings and decide on which titles I want to cover, some titles feel like they would fit in just fine with the Lifetime or Hallmark brand. Reviews for films like Love Hard and Purple Hearts manage to bring in traffic but the same cannot be said for reviews of their blockbusters especially when critics pan them. It’s the smaller-budgeted films that struggle to generate reviews but certainly generate traffic. But still, it’s a major problem when Netflix releases films in theaters but decides to hold the embargo until closer to the streaming release. What this says to me is that they don’t really have confidence in their product. It is never a good sign when there are no press screeners available. Take that as what you will for Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

I could get into both Peacock and Paramount+ but there’s only so much time to have this discussion. Peacock is in an interesting position because not only are they releasing original films, series, and specials but they are also using the service to stream the sort of shows that one could watch on MSNBC. This is also in addition to providing streaming coverage of sports. The service only launched in 2020 but there’s certainly room for growth. Paramount+ is also growing subscribers. The streamer is the home of everything Star Trek. They also have original films that were made for or unloaded on Paramount+. And then finally, there’s Apple TV+ While the service is the exclusive home to the Oscar-winning CODA, they release a smaller number of series and films compared to the other services with new episodes usually dropping on Fridays.

All streamers should be focusing on quality over quantity. Don’t release content just for the sake of saying, hey, we have this for you to watch. Release it because it’s a program or film that has value.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.