Published On: Mon, Feb 4th, 2019

The Streaming Wars Are Starting: Here’s What to Expect

You may have noticed the emergence of several new streaming services over the past several years. After it became clear that Netflix was here to stay and that streaming had significant profitability potential, other media companies began to speculate about the possibilities of launching their own channels. Apple, Facebook, Disney, and DC are all making plans to launch their own brand of streaming services, joining existing competitors like Hulu and Amazon Prime.

We’re entering a veritable streaming war, and if you enjoy streaming services as a consumer, you need to be prepared for what to expect.

photo/ Lalmch

Emerging Competition

Competitors are emerging because every media company believes they can make more money through monthly subscriptions than they can through licensing fees while being hosted on another channel. In the short-term, this may very well be true; for a few extra dollars a month, consumers will likely be more than willing to pay for the original or exclusive content they want the most. But soon, it’s likely that the market will become crowded, and there will be dozens of streaming services to choose from—or manage simultaneously.

What Consumers Can Expect

As a result of this market crowding, you can expect the following at a minimum:

  •         Cutthroat original series. Netflix has already announced plans to optimize its library of content to include at least 50 percent originals. Other streaming services will strive to create as many new original series as possible, while maximizing exclusive content to which they already own the rights. Exclusive and original content are convenient ways to differentiate yourself from the competition, and also serve as a defensive measure; third-party content creators can always pull their licenses, but if you created the content, it’s yours forever.
  •         Attractive offers for new subscribers. Streaming services need to get people hooked, whatever the cost. Accordingly, we’ll likely see most new streaming channels create enticing offers for new subscribers. You might get several months for free when signing up, or get a year’s worth of low rates during the early phases of launch. It’s going to be a valuable chance to try out multiple channels and see which ones are most valuable.
  •         Reduced selection on old standbys. As for your existing services, like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, you can expect to see a gradually reduced selection. Media companies that have historically licensed their content through these platforms may start pulling them in an effort to launch their old platforms, and older platforms won’t put up much of a fight, significantly preferring the creation of their own unique series.
  •         Increased relevance of cable. Consumers have access to several inexpensive cable options already, and with the rising pressure from new streaming services, it’s likely that cable companies will put in extra effort to remain viable. We may see things like lower rates, better packages, or competing cable-streaming hybrid services emerge.
  •         Higher prices (eventually). For a while, we’ll likely see low rates for new and existing streaming services. But once new channels start feeling confident in their subscriber bases, we’ll see incremental increases in monthly rates. Consumers are more likely to subscribe for a low rate and stay subscribed through rate increases than they are to subscribe to a high rate, so streaming services will be sneaky and strategic about how they roll out those prices.
  •         Consolidation partners. Once the market becomes thick with different streaming options, consumers will likely get annoyed with the sheer number of available choices (and subscriptions to maintain). Accordingly, we may eventually see the emergence of consolidation companies, meant to simplify the streaming experience. Major players in the streaming market may team up to offer a joint platform, or may offer a limited selection for customizable pools of content from multiple competitors.
  •         Innovation. With so much competition, streaming services will need a way to differentiate themselves—and original content can only get them so far. To gain a real sense of dominance, streaming channels will be forced to innovate. That could mean a fundamentally new type of content (like Netflix’s foray into choose-your-own-adventure-style interactive content), or a new bundle of services available to consumers. This is the most open-ended development we’re likely to see, and is entirely dependent on the creativity of leaders in the field.

The streaming wars are just beginning, and it’s difficult to say how they’ll develop from here. There’s significant money to be made in streaming services, so media companies won’t likely abandon the idea of having their own channel. But at the same time, an endless supply of new streaming channels isn’t exactly sustainable either. Pay close attention to the offerings and trends as they change with consumer preferences, and get ready for an interesting decade in terms of streaming content.

Author: Anna Johansson

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