Study: US SVoD users cap budgets

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A report from Phenix, a provider of global, end-to-end real-time video solutions, found that 42 per cent of US adults would only be willing to spend a maximum of between $1-$20 per month on streaming subscriptions this year, which, at current prices, limits subscriptions to just one or two per person.

The study, The Streaming Wars: Future of Streaming Report, conducted online with third party research firm YouGov, uncovered that despite the ‘streaming wars’ intensifying in 2017, consumers’ strict cap on what they’re willing to spend is rooted in continuous poor live streaming experiences.

The report found as many as 40 per cent of Americans don’t plan to live stream this year. The overarching explanation seems to come down to latency (i.e., delays or buffering), as more than one in eight (12 per cent) of these consumers said they would be more likely to stream live content if latency wasn’t a consistent issue.

Live lives, but only if it’s done right

Given this common cap, streaming players in the industry are going to need to stand out to compete for limited consumer dollars in 2018. ‘True live’ or ‘real-time’ streaming may be the answer to this, as nearly half (49 per cent) of all consumers want to watch content as-it-happens. Whether it’s a fear of next-day spoilers, which one in 13 (7 per cent) consumers report feeling, or otherwise, streaming in real-time is a necessity.   

“This year, we saw everyone from platforms to networks to franchises heavily invest in streaming technologies. Even though the industry significantly advanced in 2017, claims of offering real-time capabilities are false and it’s because of major latency issues, especially at scale,” said Stefan Birrer, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Phenix. “‘True-live’ has the potential to be such a key differentiator this year that original content is going to take a back seat to it, despite original content investments from tech giants like Apple and Facebook. In fact, consumers are already feeling a case of ‘content fatigue’ so platforms need to worry less about churning out a new show every week and more about providing consumers with what they want – live streamed content that’s truly live.” Specifically:

  • Nearly one in five (18 per cent) think there’s too much content to keep up with
  • Nearly one in six (15 per cent) wish their content was all on the same platform 

The winners and losers in live streaming

The research shows consumers have strong opinions about streaming platforms they either want to see offer real-time content or that already offer it, but are performing poorly. Consumers who want to live stream content in 2018 would like to do so or plan to via:

Winners:

  • Netflix (60 per cent). This is more than any other platform surveyed, indicating the potential for it to close out the streaming competition once and for all
  • YouTube (Nearly half, 48 per cent)
  • Facebook (More than one-third, 38 per cent)
  • Amazon (More than one-third, 37 per cent). The company already has the attention of NFL fans with its Thursday Night Football licence, so if it can reduce latency, there’s an opportunity to acquire further subscribers, especially if it begins to offer additional live content

These consumers are less excited about live streaming content on the following platforms in 2018:

Losers:

  • Hulu (only 25 per cent). Despite having a live television offering, it is challenged by buffering issues
  • Twitter (12 per cent). Clearly, Twitter didn’t impress with its streamed NFL games in 2016 or additional live offerings in 2017

“Right now, most platforms that provide ‘live streaming’ capabilities offer either scale or speed, not both. Yet, offering both is the only way to create a real-time experience, as well as the only way for it to be a market differentiator this year and beyond. Once achieved, providers will be in a better position to win more subscribers and reach untapped audiences,” Birrer continued. 

Challenges and Opportunities for 2018

Once real-time is achieved, we’ll be able to start looking to the future and investing in new types of streaming technologies:

  • One in seven (14 per cent) would consider streaming in virtual reality headsets in 2018
  • One in eight (13 per cent) would consider streaming in 360 viewing in 2018
  • One in seven (15 per cent) would consider using 4K and enhanced resolutions for streaming in 2018

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