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TheStreet Open House

Who Wins the Original Content War?

Stocks in this article: NFLX AMZN YHOO MSFT

Updated from 8:24 a.m. EST April 8, 2014 to include Sesame Street's new video on-demand service, Sesame GO.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - I spent the better part of the past weekend on my couch "binge watching" Netflix's (NFLX - Get Report) House of Cards -- the hugely successful, Emmy-winning original series launched by the streaming service in early 2013. It was one of the reasons I decided to recently pony up for a monthly subscription. I may be late to watching two seasons of House of Cards, but to Netflix, that doesn't matter. At 44 million members and growing, I'm the kind of customer Netflix is looking to appeal to by launching more original series.

The fact that Netflix, among others, has been so successful in creating original content for its subscribers has huge implications in consumers' living rooms, Hollywood, the boardrooms of America's media giants and even in parts of Silicon Valley. The media industry is in a state of flux and it's anybody's guess as to who will be the ultimate winner.

Admittedly, I have not made it through the entire two seasons yet and when I get home tonight, I'll forgo my usual television programming to continue my binge -- again exactly what Netflix wants - where the value of the service is so compelling that I wouldn't dream of cancelling my $8 a month subscription.

Netflix isn't the only company that wants me to binge watch something I can only get through its service. From Amazon (AMZN - Get Report), Hulu and Yahoo! (YHOO) to even Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox, a host of companies are getting into the original content game, further rocking the already teetering traditional cable television industry. By answering consumer demand for television programming when they want it (on-demand) and how they want it (via their laptops, tablets, iPhones and yes, even their TVs), streaming services are eyeing the dollar signs whether in subscriptions or advertising, by providing a new way to give consumers what they want. The stakes are incredibly high.

"I think we're headed toward a convergence. The [poster child] of all this is House of Cards on Netflix and the fact that it's gotten consideration and even won some Emmy awards," said Brad Adgate,senior vice president of research at Horizon Media. "The second season became an event for Netflix subscribers and binge viewing. That really set the tone that streaming video is a viable competition to what we would call traditional television. That opened a door for other original series to be streamed online."

"That whole broadcast TV model that's been with us for 50-plus years is slowly going away," he added. "You're seeing the impact. Even the networks are ordering shows without a pilot, which is what Netflix did with House of Cards. The model is changing and it's all being driven by cable and now streaming video."

Even Sesame Street is eyeing potential revenue from an on-demand service. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind the children's long-standing television show launched a subscription video-on-demand service for $3.99 a month or $29.99 annually where viewers can watch Sesame Street episodes, Sesame Street Classic episodes and Pinky Dinky Doo episodes.

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