Streaming services are more abundant than ever, but this could be a problem in the future.
By Matt Theis
The year 2017 marked a huge breakthrough period for Netflix. According to Ashley Rodriguez of Quartz.com, “The global streaming giant added 8.3 million new subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2017—a new record for quarterly subscriber growth that blew passed analysts’ expectations.” While this is great for Netflix, other companies have taken notice of their success and are challenging the giant with their own streaming services. The sheer number of services offered is what is concerning though.
A statement from Netflix reported that throughout 2017 they had an increase of 24 million subscribers, bringing their total subscriber base to nearly 118 million. While Netflix is dominating the streaming market, there are many other contenders putting their feet into the game. Hulu and Amazon Video in particular are offering original content to compete with Netflix Originals. While their combined libraries do not even match Netflix’s impressive Originals catalog, Amazon Video and Hulu continue to push for quality, original content.
Alongside these primary streaming services are many others, such as HBO Now, Showtime Anytime, and many upcoming services.
What started out as a simple way to catch up on the latest shows and classic movies has turned into a highly competitive space, with companies continuing to push for more niche services, such as the upcoming DC Streaming app.
A Future That’s Too Niche?
DC’s streaming app is where streaming services become perhaps too niche. This app implies that users will be paying a monthly fee to watch tailored super hero content, but this content could have been on Netflix in the first place. This is the problem with the bevy of streaming services being offered; there is just too much to choose from. Even Disney is throwing their hat in. With companies constantly competing for the streaming pie, trends predict that more companies will enter the streaming market.
A report from PewResearch states that “About 6 in 10 young adults in U.S. primarily use online streaming to watch TV. ” That large number seems to only be growing, as streaming services like Netflix continue to earn new subscribers by the millions.
Streaming is Becoming Cable
With all of this emphasis on streamed content, it seems that more and more companies are offering their own services. A report from CBS News back in 2015 predicted, “The sharp rise in watching video on-demand is spawning more competitors in the streaming services market and more attrition in the cable industry. Cable is struggling to reinvent its business model, as more people realize they no longer need to subscribe to view their favorite shows but can stream them through smart TVs, mobile devices, and set-top boxes instead.” This statement proves to be more relevant than ever with a large number of streaming services popping up since 2015, such as Showtime Anytime.
The question with all of these services is: just how many services are going to be popping up, and how worth it are these services going to be?
It seems that we are entering a new form of premium cable, where each station is creating its own streaming service. While this might not be an issue now, what happens if Showtime, HBO, and Disney took all of their shows off of Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu and made them exclusive to their own streaming services?
Streaming Is Only Rising
According to Syfy Wire, “A new report from the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) shows 2017 ended with a five percent rise in spending on home entertainment over the previous year, on the strength of a whopping 31 percent increase in subscription spending for video on demand.” This 31 percent increase marks the dominance in video-on-demand streaming. As more services are offered, customers may have to choose what services they want most or end up subscribing to multiple services to gain access to the best shows.
While it might seem easy to stick to one service like Netflix, companies are pushing quality content that is making services, such as Amazon Video look much more appealing.
My personal experience with streaming is that companies will continue popping up and will be forced to produce quality original content, and third party shows could possibly become exclusive to the company’s own services.
Netflix is already showing just how profitable online streaming can be. According to Syfy Wire, “Netflix posted $3.3 billion in revenue in Q4 2017, and $11.7 billion for 2017, 27 %percent and 33 %percent more, respectively, from a year ago.” The trend of streaming service profitability and prominence is only going up.
I have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, and being with only one service would not be too bad at the moment; however, I only see these companies producing more and better content in the future. While Hulu is rather dry in terms of original content, what they do offer is quite good. Amazon Prime in particular is picking up speed with popular shows like Goliath, and The Man in the High Castle.
DC’s newest app is particularly interesting to me, as I am a big fan of DC’s cartoons, which have been in a bit of a dry spell as of late. Is this worth a monthly fee for tailored DC content though? That’s what I think customers will have to ask themselves about each new streaming service.
More Quality Content
If streaming services want to compete with Netflix or with each other, they will have to continue pumping out high quality content that is unique to their platform in order to earn subscribers. Quality content will continue as more and more people subscribe and competition becomes more fierce.
Don’t be surprised if in the next ten years over 20 streaming services pop up, each offering quality content. Rather than having everything in a few places, content looks like it will be scattered, which means more shows, but also more money spent and more content missed by the average consumer. All told, the future looks expensive for customers that want to catch up on the latest and best shows.