How video will be consumed

Our Media Solution Specialist, Magnus Svensson, is sharing his reflections from the online streaming industry in this post. This is part of a monthly series so make sure to follow us here if you don’t want to miss an episode.

The quarterly earnings reports are coming in and the cord-shifting is continuing at a rapid pace. AT&T lost 886 000 Pay-TV subscribers, Comcast lost 477 000 Pay-TV subscribers, Verizon 81 000 and Altice 35 000. And then we don’t even have all reports yet. On the other side, we have a growth of HBO/HBO Max with 5 million subscribers since the end of 2019 and 10 million signups for Peacock TV. And we already know that Netflix and Disney continue to add streaming subscribers at a rapid pace. The direction is clear.

There is a lot of talks that we have a “Streaming War” and that there must be a winner. I believe that this “War” will have a lot of winners in different parts of the field. A lot of companies will find their place and role in the streaming playfield, both large as well as small.

To survive on the battlefield, you need to be agile and quickly adapt to changing environments. Companies that build their streaming service or product in a modular and flexible way will have a huge advantage. Good content will continue to be key, but the way it is produced and delivered will become increasingly important.

The strategic aspects when building a streaming service, or product serving the streaming services, are more important than ever. Understanding the market dynamics, a vision of the future, and the ability to adapt will be key to attract the eyeballs that now leave the traditional TV services. Handling different product packaging options as well as multiple distribution and business models must be on top of the agenda for every company.

What will we consume?

I don’t think that the type of video content that we consume will differ that much on a higher level. We will continue to watch movies, series, shows, news, sports, and whatever we watched before. It will just be more of it, and more companies and people will have the possibility to produce and deliver high-quality content.

Today’s technology makes it possible to produce and deliver high-quality content with relatively little effort and budget. So, what has been known as user-generated content has become as good as a professionally-produced video. Niche content, if well produced a distributed, will definitely have its role to play.

It is also possible to reach a wider global audience with your content. More and more of the streaming services aim for an international reach. For a niche service, global reach might be the differentiator between failure and success. With global reach comes localization in terms of subtitling and dubbing. For most services, automation in localization will be very important.

Even is Quibi got off on a bad start, I believe that short-form content will have its share of the consumer’s time. It might be short-form series, personalized news, sports highlights, or educational content. Consumed on any device, mobiles as well as the big screen.

The ongoing pandemic with empty stadiums has accelerated and inevitable change in the way that sports are produced and distributed. And the change needs to go beyond filling the gaps in the empty stadiums. Sports distributors must attract the fans and viewers and create a total experience. And no, blaming the streaming technology for latency is no longer acceptable.

How will we consume?

Going from a world where all content was served to us curated at a specific time, we have got used to content on-demand. Lately, we have seen an upswing and return of the linear channels, but a bit more modernized. A linear channel is nothing else than a play-list. A virtual linear channel can be a curated play-list, a time-based channel, a personalized channel, a barker channel, or a combination of all.

Pluto TV and Xumo are examples of services with virtual linear channels and we have Samsung TV Plus, Amazon, Roku, and lately Plex and Peacock. According to Omdia, linear TV accounted for 63% of TV viewing in the US in 2019, with similar numbers in Europe including Spain, the UK, Italy, Germany, and France.

The possibility to deliver content as part of virtual channels is a great complement to video on demand or live services.

Bundling and unbundling is the question. Networks, broadcasters, operators, device manufactures, and social media platforms all fight for the aggregator role in the future TV landscape. Like in many other parts, I don’t think that we’ll see a clear winner for some time and the possibility to deliver content in many different ways will still be needed.

Whether to go for a subscription-based or an ad-funded service. Whether to serve content as pay-per-view or transactional. Many options exist and we already see a movement towards direct-to-consumer deliveries where content owners explore the possibility to skip a few steps and deliver directly to the consumer through their own streaming services.

As you can see, in many cases it will not be a case of either-or, it will be a calculation of how to reach as many possible viewers as possible.

Conclusion

Even if you already have an established offering or about to launch a new service or product, agility and innovation will be the key to success. Consumers of video will be more volatile, and you constantly need to be one step ahead of your competitors. Ensure that the service or product that you develop will stay relevant also tomorrow.

Create content, services, or products in a way that it can be packaged in many different ways, handle different monetization options, and built for global scale as well as local adaptions.

To watch out for the coming months…

Most sports leagues have started up again and it’s very interesting to follow the technical progress and innovation in the way that it’s delivered to our living rooms. A lot has happened in just a few months, but there is still a way to go when it comes to fan engagement, quality of experience, and latency.

A bit the same with online conferences, webinars, and virtual meeting places. Most physical events have been pushed to next year and it might very well be that we never will be back to events in the same way as before the pandemic. I don’t think that technology will be able to fully replace meeting people face to face, but we can do a lot better than today.

Magnus Svensson is a Media Solution Specialist and partner at Eyevinn Technology. Eyevinn Technology is the leading independent consulting company specializing in video technology and media distribution.

Follow me on Twitter (@svensson00) and LinkedIn for regular updates and news.

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