Is wholesome entertainment making a comeback, while traditional streaming services stagger?
Maybe so, according to some commentators. A new piece by World Magazine finds that “Profits are down and subscriber growth has slowed” in 2022 for the big streaming services—HBO, Netflix, and Disney among them. The story continues, “Giants like Netflix and HBO Max have taken a spray-and-pray approach, offering content as fragmented as the culture itself, trying to be all things to all viewers.”
In November of this year, a struggling Disney fired CEO Bob Chapek in reaction to a 40% stock plunge over 2022, due at least in part to its promotion of overtly LGBTQ ideology, as Robert Siedlecki and others have reported here. Other mega-streamers are facing a similar crisis. For the first time since 2011, Netflix has lost subscribers, leading to plummeting stock prices, layoffs, and other cost-cutting measures. And Warner Brothers CEO David Zaslav halted production of the $90 million project Batgirl (slated for HBO Max), deciding the tax write-off for losses projected wouldn’t outweigh the benefits of any potential new subscribers.
So who in the media world is seeing growth? Wholesome startups like Pure Flix, Angel Studios, the Great American Family, and DailyWire+.
Like Netflix, Christian entertainment company Pure Flix invests heavily in content creation, but focuses narrowly on the family values crowd. “You have to create in line with your membership base,” CEO Michael Scott told World. “You’ve got to watch your costs to make sure that you’re not out of line with the amount of subscribers you have and where you’re headed.”
Or, in other words, you have to be a good steward of the resources God has given you. Pure Flix doesn’t disclose numbers, but Scott says that monthly new subscribers number in the “tens of thousands.”
Similarly, Angel Studios, founded by brothers Neal, Jeff, and Jordan Harmon, focus on family-friendly, wholesome, and even explicitly Christian content. The media company operates as an angel-investing platform, with the “angels” deciding what content gets made. The company got its start with the creation of The Chosen, a television series about the life of Jesus. More than 16,000 angels invested in the show, which is now free to the public.
Another example is the Great American Family channel, which operates much like the famed Hallmark, minus Hallmark’s more recent emphasis on including divorce, remarriage, and LGBTQ themes in its movies. (Former Hallmark actress Candace Cameron Bure made waves earlier this year, when she left Hallmark for the Great American Family and commented that she believed GAF would “keep traditional marriage at the core.”) GAF says that it is the fastest growing of all cable channels. And conservative news company The Daily Wire, which took in $100 million in revenue in 2021, says it is poised to double that in 2022—thanks in large part to its streaming service, DailyWire+.
The message sent to the entertainment industry is loud and clear: Americans want more wholesome, traditional values-based entertainment that they can watch with their kids. They want less of what Disney, Netflix, and HBO currently have to offer.