The current Covid-19 pandemic has been good for streaming services. Kind of.
It has been well documented that the still raging pandemic served as accelerating adoption of consumer streaming, especially among older viewers. But media and streaming officials who gathered at CES 2021 this week said that while the closures have helped drive adoption and peak audiences, they have also led to increased competition and more cutthroat consumers.
“Covid has definitely been the tipping point for the adoption of OTT, which has obviously been wonderful for us in the streaming business,” said Stefanie Meyers, Starz cast SV, in a presentation Tuesday. “But with that comes the most discerning customer. Previously, if you could just ask someone to subscribe, it kind of was. Now we have to constantly justify the time the customer spends with each of our products or each of our salons. So it’s a bit of a double-edged sword.
With more opportunities in the market, there is more competition – and adapting to new competitors requires agile decision making and scalable measures of success. This month, all eyes are on Discovery +, Discovery Inc.’s new lifestyle-focused streamer hitting the market with over 50 original series and a huge catalog of unscripted content.
“The more streamers there are, like Discovery +, the more the competition shifts to another competitive type of game and the more people start going after the audience you are looking for,” Ann Sarnoff, CEO and President of Studios and Networks of WarnerMedia division, said Wednesday. “And then, of course, that raises the bar and then makes you think more creatively about how you can find your fans.”
Where is the breaking point?
Other leaders are ignoring the increasingly crowded market. More choice opens up more opportunities for consumers and businesses, said Andrew McCollum, CEO of Philo, whose virtual MVPD service provides linear TV access to many of Discovery’s cable properties.
“It’s great to offer options to consumers,” McCollum said. “Often, these services bring new, original content as well as deeper access to library content that may not have been available before. In that regard, it can be a great addition to what you get from Philo.
“I wonder what the limit is, where people feel like it’s really overwhelming to have so many of these different SVOD services where you have different login credentials, different billing details, different user interfaces, different content. available for all of them, and you really have to remember where to go and how to get it, ”he added. “I don’t know when we will reach this breaking point.”
Advertising-supported services are also monitoring this breaking point. “I think there has been a lot of talk and talk about how many SVODs the consumer can support, and how many are they going to support, and I think you’re going to see more experimentation on the consumer side,” said Scott Reich, programming svp at Pluto TV, owned by ViacomCBS. “Because there are so many different options, the consumer will ultimately decide what the new set will be based on your habits, your budget, what is important to you.”
New programming trends are emerging
Before that bubble burst, however, streamers noted a high demand for the types of programming born out of boredom at home. The overall audience is on the rise, executives said, and consumers have turned to new types of programming as daily habits change to allow distance learning and exercise at home.