As streaming services like Disney+, Amazon Prime, and Netflix become even more prevalent, the Writers Guild of America West (WGA) raises concerns on their potential for becoming ‘the new gatekeepers’ of the entertainment industry. In its 15-page antitrust report, the WGA outlines how Disney, Amazon, and Netflix have accumulated market power through mergers and anti-competitive practices.
Disney’s mergers are accused of ramping up prices for its streaming services, integrating the company further, and impacting output and innovation. Netflix is charged with manipulating its influential position as the largest streaming service to cut down on content creation. Amazon is rumored to underpay labor residuals and negatively affect competitors.
The Writers Guild has urged lawmakers and antitrust agencies to intervene in new mergers and investigate possible evidence of anti-competitive practices. They have further voiced their support for new guidelines requiring companies to consider the effects on labor and wages. Veteran entertainment attorney Ken Ziffren expects further consolidations to take place as streaming platforms shrink.
Quoting Laura Blum-Smith, the WGA states: “Harmful mergers and attempts to monopolize markets are a recurring theme in the history of media and entertainment, and they are a key part of what led 11,500 writers to go on strike more than 100 days ago against their employers.”
The timing of the report is significant in light of the ongoing negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Additionally, the report calls out Disney’s recent price hikes for its ad-free tiers of Disney+ and Hulu, as Disney seeks to become profitable. Additionally, Disney is facing an antitrust lawsuit accusing them of managing their businesses and engaging in anti-competitive agreements.
Ken Ziffren argues: “That’s the way that the world is likely to go and what that represents is the need for fresh cash to come into the studio streamers’ hands.”
The WGA’s antitrust report is claiming that industry giants Disney, Amazon, and Netflix are in danger of becoming the new big power holders of entertainment. The WGA is calling for action both from legislators and from the companies themselves, in order to ensure that future consolidation does not lead to anti-competitive practices and to regulate streaming services. With the ominous prediction of further consolidation, the question looms: just how much power do streaming services really have?
Source: Hollywood Reporter