Streaming wars and the changing face of online content

I could not bring myself to queue up and spend hundreds of pounds on tickets for Hamilton. However, over the 4th of July weekend, I went all out with a bucket of popcorn as I watched the musical on Disney+ from the comfort of my sofa. There is no denying that you do miss the buzz of a real-life audience and the proximity to the characters, but unlike a lot of things during the lockdown, streaming a Broadway musical at home felt very natural.

With so many of us spending more time indoors due to the ongoing lockdown, the video streaming market is witnessing a period of significant growth. Another reason why these services are gaining in popularity is down to the convenience of streaming high-quality content without the added annoyance of adverts. This is especially true for the subscription video on demand (SVoD) industry, which is on track to be worth more than $70 billion by 2021.

Media companies and tech giants such as Amazon, Disney, AT&T and Comcast are in a race to attract eyeballs across the globe with the content offered on their OTT platforms. As streaming wars intensify between these brands and the likes of Netflix, HBO Max, and other niche players, content delivery and entertainment at large is evolving.

The changing face of content delivery and entertainment

To stay relevant in an otherwise cutthroat business, OTT platform service providers are continuously upgrading their content and the viewing experience. A good example is the soon-to-be-launched Peacock service, which is expected to feature more than15,000 hours of video. The service will reportedly offer a unique multi-tiered pricing structure along with movies, series’, live and on-demand content across news, sports, late-night, and reality television.

2017 was a historic year for OTT platforms with Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix winning some big awards. Hulu became the first streaming service to win an Emmy for best drama series for its adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The same year Amazon took home three Oscars for Manchester By the Sea and The Salesman. For Amazon, a company traditionally known for its e-commerce business, the win highlighted how quickly its video content arm has grown over the years. With Manchester by the Sea, Amazon took a different approach from other services by releasing the film in traditional theatres before its streaming debut. The same night, Netflix also won the best documentary short for The White Helmets. All these wins were historic for the platforms as it brought them social media accolades and bragging rights to win new subscribers.

Fast forward to 2020, nearly a quarter of the world’s population is sheltering at home and watching more content online than ever. Deloitte’s preliminary report suggests that internet usage has jumped up by 70% amidst the pandemic and streaming has surged by 12% across various platforms. Due to huge bandwidth being consumed by online entertainment applications, Facebook, Amazon, and YouTube have reportedly lowered the quality of video streaming in Europe to ease the strain on the networks and keep up with the growing demand.

As we are all currently spending a considerable amount of time at home, most of us are binge-watching different formats of entertainment including movies, sports, and docuseries such as Tiger King. One interesting form of content that appeared during lockdown was the virtual commencement ceremony ‘Dear Class of 2020’ hosted on YouTube. Headed by the Obamas and Beyoncé, the virtual graduation included a number of musical performances by the likes of Katy Perry, Megan Thee Stallion, and more, and it attracted more than 8.2 million people.

The majority of sporting and musical events have been cancelled this year, and pop stars including Coldplay’s Chris Martin, John Legend, U2’s Bono, and The Queens have taken to performing impromptu home concerts on the news and their own social media channels. The famous Royal Opera House has also been streaming live performances since closing its doors on 17th March via its website and YouTube channel. Although streaming is free, audiences are encouraged to donate and help support the community during the pandemic.

Customer insights – the key to subscriber retention

With an abundance of OTT services bombarding us with content on a daily basis, it is leading to increased cancellations and subscription fatigue. Deloitte’s survey suggests that many consumers sign up for free trials, then cancel when the trial ends and switch services in search of new content. Subscriber retention is a huge challenge in the SVoD industry.

So, in light of these projections, will customer insights offer an edge for SVoD platforms?

Streaming services are no longer competing on the size of their content library but on how well they can match their content based on a user’s individual preferences. Personalised recommendation is key to achieving a high level of customer engagement and ultimately, a competitive edge. And to truly achieve that, SVoD platforms need to work with the most complete, accurate, and relevant prospect and customer data available. It is only then that OTT platforms can derive a deep and nuanced understanding of customer needs and truly deliver a differentiated entertainment experience and win the subscriber retention battle.

If you feel your online video content could benefit from an ecosystem approach, drop us a line: [email protected].

 

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

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About the Author : Purvai Dua


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