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The Streaming Landscape Keeps Shape Shifting

May 20, 2021 - Julia Hogarty

Julia Hogarty, Product Marketing Manager, looks at the accelerated evolutions in the SVoD market and how the competitive landscape is constantly changing shape

The world has seen an incredible amount of change in the last year. Not least, an increased dependency on online communications and over-the-top platforms. The BBC reported a 71% increase in the use of their video streaming services in 2020 compared to the previous year. Overall, the number of subscriptions to online video streaming services worldwide surpassed an incredible 1 billion in the last 12 months according to the Motion Picture Association. This is largely due to most of the global population experiencing periodic lockdowns and consuming their preferred entertainment channels from home.

Traditional production houses have struggled to pivot to new distribution models for their box office investments, while the more adaptive players have rapidly accelerated their content strategies. This saw significant market growth for the streaming goliaths – Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+. The latter having been a timely creation with its inception in November 2019, just in time to capitalise on the biggest shift in consumption behaviours in a century. Even as vaccinations ramp up and theatres start to reopen in some parts of the world, the momentum in the direct-to-consumer streaming model isn’t slowing down.

This has meant that dual-threat players such as Amazon, with its cloud services arm and its subscription-based streaming platform, are getting hungry to subsume some big production houses to compete with the likes of Netflix and Disney on the only differentiator left: original content. Telecoms.com reported this week Amazon is thinking of buying MGM, arguably one of the largest film studios on the planet, for a cool $9 billion. This comes after AT&T announced on Monday that it was merging its media business, WarnerMedia (born out of its acquisition of Time Warner in 2018), with Discovery to create a standalone global media enterprise.

Ultimately, everyone is chasing the success of Netflix with its 207.6 million subscribers and, arguably, the market is there for the taking. Telcos have embraced the morphing of media companies into online services players for years, but they’re now getting in on the action themselves. Owning the connectivity, the QoS (Quality of Service) and the customer means telcos are in prime position to expand their portfolio bundles to include premium subscription services for SVoD (Subscription Video on Demand). It will be interesting to see the success achieved by the various direct-to-consumer strategies; whether it will be AT&T’s expanded distribution approach or Amazon’s ‘throw money at creating original content’ gambit that will win in the end. In the meantime, a healthy amount of streaming competition is good for consumers. As long as the goliaths don’t gobble up the competition in a deal frenzy over the coming years and homogenise the market, viewers will continue to enjoy a wealth of original content from the comfort of their own homes for a long time to come.

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