S06E02: Game of Streams (Let me choose, or not)
Our Media Solution Specialist, Magnus Svensson, is sharing his reflections on the online streaming industry in this post. This is part of a monthly series so make sure to follow us here if you do not want to miss an episode.
For a very long time the video services distributed over the public internet have been very much like a mimic of already existing services, but with a different technology. The major disruption was when Netflix moved the video rental store online so that you could select any of their videos using the web and later through their apps. Since then, most of the video on demand services look very much the same.
The linear viewing has also not evolved with modern technology and has even perhaps taken a few steps back. The FAST trend is just the same free television as we have seen for many years, but now distributed over the internet. The major difference is the relatively low cost involved in creating a new channel, which opens possibilities for the content owners and service providers to be very responsive.
In simple terms, all that is needed is to create a new text file that forms a playlist of already prepared assets in the video catalogue. That text file can be created in advance or on demand when needed, and unless the content is live no processing on the video files are needed. This advantage that comes with streaming technology could be used much more, not only to create FAST channels.
One of the most discussed industry problems is content discovery and how hard it is to find something to watch. The endless search through the shelf of the video rental store has just moved to the screen. A classic sales strategy is to offer a taste of the product you would like to sell. Like walking home with that tasty taco sauce that you got to taste in the grocery store. In video and the television known as the classic barker channel.
Give the user a taste of the catalogue
What was started on mobile is now also available on the big screen. Netflix is bringing the “Fast Laughs” stream of comedy clips to their TV app. “Fast Laughs” is a playlist of short comedy video clips from shows and movies on Netflix. This allows for lean-back experience and serves as a very efficient content discover tool. A barker channel.
The same advantage mentioned for FAST channels could be applied for the streaming barker channels, very low cost to create which would allow for personalization. Give the viewer samples of content based on the viewers’ preference. It could either be as a completely personalized channel, or the choice of different playlists made by professional producers or celebrities. If done well, the playlists might be all that some viewers ever watch in your service.
Seven West Media, Australia’s second largest commercial television network, created a playlist of earlier “Big Brother” seasons and leading up to the season premiere of the second season, the “Big Brother” channel accounted for 41 percent of streaming minutes on Seven West Media’s digital-only channels.
Give the user the choice to personalize
The dynamic and flexible nature of the streaming technology would also allow for more options for the viewers. The most common examples are the choice of subtitles and audio languages. But it doesn’t need to end with the localization options. With relatively low added costs it is possible to allow alternative feeds of the same content.
A good example of this is the “ManningCast”, a separate feed of the NFL Monday Night Football where two former all-star quarterbacks and brothers offered an alternative to the same feed of the game being broadcasted on ESPN. Payton and Ali Manning have on average captured13% of the total audience for ESPN’s “Monday Night Football”.
Other examples could be alternative video feeds that could be selected either as the main screen or as an overlay picture in picture video. Or the possibility to select more information as graphical overlay, such as news-tickers, betting information, or other facts and statistics.
The keyword with all this must be the freedom to make all these choices, or not. The service should allow for a straightforward lean-back experience with a playlist of choice, the possibility to select a specific movie or game and the possibility to configure the content experience to your choice. Or not… “let me entertain you”.
To watch out for the coming months…
The year 2022 has not been an exception, mergers and acquisitions are announced and further consolidation will continue. Expect to see more consolidation both between tech vendors, streaming services, and a mix of both when companies try to grab a bigger piece of the pie. The growth rates seen last years across the industry will not continue at the same pace and consolidation will be inevitable.
On that topic, the $43 billion merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery is expected to close in April. It will be very interesting to follow how the joint offer will evolve and how the different services will be packaged and offered to the market. Warner Bros Discovery have all possibilities in the world to create an engaging service using some of the concepts mentioned earlier.
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.