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People Want their Streaming to Come Full Circle … Easy-to-Find Choices

“A little tequila, sunshine and tacos never hurt anybody.” – Ron Woodroof, “Dallas Buyers Club,” Truth Entertainment, 2013

Let’s see, the pandemic made us shut-ins.

The fires (here in California) showed us what the apocalypse was going to look like with the red/orange clouds.

Then, what the post life was going to be with grey clouds of smoke, fog, crud.

Counter culturist Timothy Leary was right, “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out.”

People in every country, state/province, city/town had to give up the normal stuff they do – eat out, catch a ballgame, go to a movie. Suddenly, they were rediscovering every nook, cranny of their home.

So, with typical enabler encouragement … everyone’s doing it, a friend of ours told us how he occupied his time at home … he binged.

We told him we didn’t do booze or drugs, so he explained it to us … turn on Netflix and binge.

Watch a whole season of something in an evening; or, better yet, take the best movies they have to offer (in your opinion) and watch them one after another … BAM!

It turns out he was right, folks around the globe are sitting in front of what used to be called their boob tubes and watching stuff.

Yeah, they use a more PC (politically correct) term for their binging … streaming.

Here in the US, Nielsen reported that during the second quarter of last year, folks watched an average of 142.5B streaming minutes every week.

Growing Streams – Thanks in part because people can watch what they want, when they want, where they want and on whatever screen they happen to have; streaming content is growing. The growth will continue, largely because there’s so much good stuff and viewing screens are always close at hand.

That’s up from 81.7B minutes for the same period last year.

And everyone was settling in and enjoying the readily available content. Nielsen noted that people 55 and older now account for 26 percent of streaming minutes, up from 19 percent a year ago.

While there are some very good free (ad-supported) offerings, Netflix is still the first service most people turn to (34 percent of the streaming market).

Since the company began streaming content back in 2007, the company has invested heavily in new, unique content while being the most aggressive service to have a global footprint – more than 192.95M worldwide subscribers with 72.9M being in the US.

Top Slot – Due in part to being the first to market, Netflix is the gorilla in the room. However, it’s aggressive project development and focus on being a global streaming service have helped pave the way for the industry. And it keeps the company ahead of the pack.

To maintain it’s top position, Netflix perfected its technical roots and relies heavily on data and analytics to determine what the next project is to be greenlighted.

Glow, Witcher, Strange Things and The Crown were recent video stories that attracted a lot of viewers across the service and production teams are moving as quickly as safely possible to fulfill commitments made before the industry shutdown. We should see a lot more … shortly.

US households spent more than 506 minutes streaming last month, compared to Amazon Prime (89 minutes) and Hulu (76 minutes).

Since the outset, Netflix has been focused on growing its global presence with subscribers in more than 190 countries with very good growth in LatAm, EMEA and APAC.

In addition to adding subscribers in the various countries, the company also develops content locally – usually a requirement by governments to show 30 percent of local content–which has been well received by subscribers in other countries.

For example, the company recently released a robust roster of excellent films and TV shows from Nollywood (one of Africa’s most aggressive production locations).

Global Audience – To gain permission to stream content to people in a given country, most governments made it a prerequisite that a certain amount of the content (often 30 percent) must be created and produced locally to protect the country’s creative content industry. The requirement also helped Netflix create/acquire new, quality content less expensively and also gave subscribers the chance to see excellent films/shows from countries such as Nigeria.

We’ve never seen our friend Devon be happier explaining the shows and creative work in painstaking details.

He wasn’t prejudice. Nollywood has a whole lotta talent!

Netflix has “imported” a rich and diverse set of Nigerian films/shows – comedies, dramas, thrillers, romcoms, the works – that we admitted were so good we blew a recent weekend – laughing, crying, screaming, cheering – streaming totally unique, different international content.

Of course, they aren’t alone in the streaming market.

There are a lot of deep-pocket folks who want their share of the streaming US (currently, the largest) and global market.

Reputation Plus – People are attracted to the best services because of new, unique content; the parent company’s overall reputation for delivering quality; and strong, continuous marketing. These factors have paid off handsomely for Disney in its US rollout and have been key factors in staying ahead of the global pack.

There are other established US services that want to be the first or second choice streaming subscription service in the country – Disney +, Apple TV +, Amazon and Hulu as well as new, reconfigured organizations that are ready to play.

Warner/AT&T/HBO Max could be a contender depending on their ability to figure out what to call the service; how much new, fresh content they’re willing to commit to the audience; and an honest look at the true value of their service to folks outside of their AT&T service bundle.

Often compared to Disney – the folks with the greatest positive consumer awareness globally – AT&T/Warner has the necessary background of a legacy Hollywood studio but lacks the umbrella aura of the Mouse House.

HBO Max isn’t the game-changer for AT&T as Disney+ is for Disney, Hulu and ESPN.

Instead it is a more awkward product line extension, add-on.

Apple is gaining a strong foothold in the market with high quality content combined with an attractive price ($7) or free with a new Apple Device. They already have nearly 40M subscribers and a global market potential of more than 950M Apple users worldwide.

Comcast, which owns NBC and Sky, the largest broadband cable infrastructure and other entertainment opportunities, has been slow to roll out its Peacock service while also moving its free streaming service, Pluto, global as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, Tencent already counts 112M subscribers and has plans to become a majority owner of iQiyi, China’s leading video service with 118M subscribers. China is well on its way to be come the largest M&E market, followed closely by India.

While China provides tremendous streaming viewer opportunities, the market is a lot like MC Hammer’s hit song, Can’t Touch This.

Content Plus – Streaming services need a steady supply of content that is of interest to the broadest number of potential and existing subscribers. At the same time, it needs to offer frustration-free location of the content.

While the pandemic made streaming an important part of people’s lives, it also opened a world of opportunities for indie filmmakers and content producers everywhere.

All of the streaming services – large and small – are only as popular as the new/original and legacy content they have in their libraries.

Consumer taste is notoriously fickle. People are constantly on the hunt for a different version of the same type of show/movie they like to watch – cops, dramas, horror, superhero, etc., and they’ll switch shows/services in the blink of an eye based on online buzz, people’s recommendations or an interesting trailer/ad.

With international platforms pushing to claim market share, streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon prime are aggressively looking for new content, unique content … everywhere. The goal is to fill their library with content that will attract new subscribers while keeping present viewers while broadcasters struggle to keep up with the “competition.”

At the same time, the at-home consumers are focused on the simpler aspect … how to quickly, easily find the content they want to watch right now.

For the entertainment-hungry consumer, the streaming stack is getting increasingly confusing–and expensive!

One of the solutions approaches consumers may take is to turn to their most familiar content aggregators – the pay TV cable provider – with a streamlined bundle plus their one or two “gotta have” streaming services.

But an increasingly popular approach is to forget the cable guy and turn to one of the streaming content platform specialists such as Roku

Single Source – With the growing range of streaming options (subscription and ad-supported), people are increasingly looking for an easy, low-cost solution to manage the content and assist them in finding what they want, when they want it.

Back in 2002, low-key CEO Anthony Woods had a simple idea after his brief stint with Netflix … give people a dongle that would let TV viewers use the power of the Internet to stream movies/TV shows from Netflix, Disney and other sources.

To expand sales, Roku developed software that could be embedded in connected TVs from companies like LG, Samsung, TCL, Sony and others.

Last year, the company finally decided it was time to tap into the global streaming market beyond its solid presence in North America.

Since then, they have gained a strong foothold in Europe and South America by expanding its partnerships with TV manufacturers and content providers.

The ad-supported devices and service make it fast and easy for viewers, especially connected TV (CTV) owners, to easily connect to the Internet and be able to choose from hundreds of ad-supported and subscription content from nearly all of the streaming services.

While Woods isn’t inclined to talk about carriage negotiations and split revenue, industry insiders simply agree with Ron Woodroof’s comments in Dallas Buyers Club when he said, “I bet that didn’t surprise anybody.”

As for streaming viewers, everything they could possibly imagine is already at one convenient place.

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Andy Marken – [email protected] – is an author of more than 700 articles on management, marketing, communications, industry trends in media & entertainment, consumer electronics, software and applications. An internationally recognized marketing/communications consultant with a broad range of technical and industry expertise especially in storage, storage management and film/video production fields; he has an extended range of relationships with business, industry trade press, online media and industry analysts/consultants.