Streaming Wars: The battle of attention, the war of ecosystems

November 22, 2019

News & Trends

My uncle doesn’t like Spotify. He’s an audiophile who believes music sounds better on vinyl (could be true) and that owning is better than streaming (not true, I’ve checked). While he shells out hundreds of pounds a year on a few select artists, I can access any album I want for less price. And that’s just music. Wait until I get started on video.

Whatever your views on owning versus streaming, there’s no denying that this sector has evolved. It’s not the same as it was when CDs were still a big thing. It has come of age and twisted and morphed in response to consumer expectations. This rings true for the music industry which is growing faster than it has in decades. But nowhere has this been felt more than in the video space.

Fighting to keep consumers engaged

In the last few weeks alone, Disney+ and Apple TV+ (why does everything need a plus?) have launched to much fanfare. They have joined the ranks of industry flagships like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Now TV, Hulu, HBO Go, and many others. That’s not accounting for services like WWE Network or NFL Pass either, which attract many millions but are outside the purview of this post.

As competition has increased, so too has the complexity of playing the video streaming game. The aim is still simple: get the subscriber, keep the subscriber. But with new services popping up all the time, this has made the latter even harder. There’s more fighting than ever for both our eyeballs and our credit card details, which has prompted a change of tack among the industry giants.

Ultimately, eyes are no longer the only prize. There is a new and growing commonality within the business strategies of the biggest video streaming players. They’re going deeper than monthly subscriptions: they’re building ecosystems.

Business strategies have changed

Apple’s offering is tied to shifting more of its high-value consumer goods. Amazon wants you to run all your online shopping through its platform and is using streaming video as yet another route into the home. Some mobile operators are subsidising mainstream video platforms for subscribers. And smaller SVOD services are even giving away content for free. In exchange, consumers are handing over their data for targeted advertising purposes.

Yet, the most interesting example of the ecosystem approach is Disney+. Not least because Disney was reliably drawing in hundreds of millions a year from licensing its content to the likes of Netflix. The House of Mouse didn’t need to launch its own video service as a revenue generator. In fact, it will be a short-term loss leader. The long-term play, though, is a heavily data-driven relationship with its consumers. With Disney+, Disney is extending its – already sizeable – empire.

This concept isn’t limited to video, either. It’s worth noting that Amazon, Apple, and Google all run music streaming services that compete with Spotify. Whether they are making big money on their own is almost irrelevant. Because what is for certain is that they contribute substantial revenue-generating value elsewhere.

Building ecosystems in content marketing

Although it may not seem obvious at first, there are parallels to be drawn between what is happening in the streaming space and how B2B vendors should approach content marketing.

Today, the barrier to entry is lower. Distributing content is easier, so there’s more competition (i.e. content) out there than ever. The aim of the game hasn’t changed – attract the customer, convert the customer – but the rules of engagement certainly have. Content efforts, much like the business strategies of streaming giants, cannot exist in a vacuum. They need to be part of a larger ecosystem.

Developing a single white paper, making it available on your website, then crossing your fingers isn’t likely to generate leads. A systematic content marketing strategy is needed, cutting through the complexity of your solutions to build a relationship with your prospects and generate trust. All delivered via a joined-up sales enablement process that underpins lead generation.

There are no two ways about it: much like Disney+ to the House of Mouse, content marketing has become an essential cog in the overall marketing machine. It’s an ecosystem with its own rules and best practices, and this applies to companies of any size. But for start-ups, in particular, getting this right can be the difference between standing out in a crowded space or getting lost in the shuffle.

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


Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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