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Why one consultant thinks Apple and Amazon are guaranteed winners in the streaming wars

Key Points
  • Apple and Amazon will emerge victorious in the streaming wars because their other services are relied on by many of their competitors, consultant Michael J. Wolf says. 
  • "Apple is not only going to make money on their own service they're also going to make money selling everybody else's services, and so will Amazon," the media and technology consultant says. 
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People are subscribing to multiple streaming services: Activate's Michael Wolf

Apple and Amazon will emerge victorious in the streaming wars because their other services are relied on by many of their competitors, media and technology consultant Michael J. Wolf told CNBC on Monday.

"Regardless of which services are successful, both Apple and Amazon are going to be winners, no matter who else wins," Wolf, CEO of Activate Consulting, said on "Squawk on the Street."

That's because the tech giants provide services — Apple's App Store and Amazon's Appstore for Android and other add-on services — to their rivals, from which they make money.

"Apple is not only going to make money on their own service, they're also going to make money selling everybody else's services, and so will Amazon," Wolf explained.

The streaming landscape has grown increasingly crowded, with Disney, AT&T's WarnerMedia and Comcast-owned NBCUniversal soon launching services of their own. Apple TV+ will launch Nov. 1, and Disney's service will launch two weeks after that.

In a follow-up phone call with CNBC, Wolf explained that the critical role Apple and Amazon play in how competitors such as Netflix and HBO acquire customers has been overlooked in the ongoing conversation about the intensifying streaming wars.

It has largely focused on the cost of monthly subscriptions and whether consumers will ultimately end up paying for more than one, as well as whether the content offerings of each service will be worth paying for.

But Wolf pointed to the way Apple and Amazon take certain percentages of each sale conducted through their marketplaces as a key advantage for those two companies.

For example, "a massive percentage of the App Store's revenue comes from in-app purchases in free-to-play games like Fortnite and Candy Crush and subscription apps like Netflix, Tinder, and YouTube," The Verge reported in March.

That revenue, Wolf explained, can then be used by Apple and Amazon to produce their own content.

Wolf added that Disney's large presence might give it to the ability to sell subscriptions directly, putting it on a footing close to Apple and Amazon.

But otherwise, Wolf said in some ways the revenue Apple and Amazon make through competitors' subscriptions are "subsidizing" their own video services.

Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com.

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