Pre-Covid 19, competition within the OTT market had already been intensifying, with the launch of a plethora of new platforms offering more choice than ever before. During lockdown, it’s no surprise either that consumers’ appetite for content has been stimulated but not satiated: time spent in video streaming apps globally during the peak week of March and April 2020 grew 30 per cent compared to the weekly average time spent in January 2020.
However, with consumers now facing an increasing fragmentation of their favourite content, the ideal content package becomes expensive, reflective of the early satellite packages; technology that elevated the consumer experience risks going full circle. Research from intuitive video management platform Imagen discovered that nearly a fifth (17 per cent) of consumers believe there will eventually be too many streaming services to choose from, resulting in people returning to traditional TV – yet almost a quarter (24 per cent) of people surveyed believe that traditional TV will eventually cease to exist, highlighting the fact that traditional broadcasters must evolve. This indicates that while streaming platforms have proven popular since their inception, their place within the broadcast market is becoming more precarious as consumers are faced with too much choice.
If competing on content alone is no longer winning, how can the OTT market survive post pandemic? Research from Imagen also found that nearly a third (29 per cent) of UK consumers would be more inclined to subscribe to more streaming platforms if they were bundled, suggesting partnerships are key to survival.
“The OTT market has become increasingly competitive over the last year, with the likes of Apple TV+ and Disney+ launching, therefore, it’s critical to streaming platforms’ survival that they respond to consumer demand,” advised Charlie Horrell, CEO, Imagen. “Partnering with other streaming services or indeed traditional broadcasters – like Sky has already done with Netflix and Disney+ – to offer bundles will allow OTT providers to present a more captivating offering and appeal to more customers. It would also mean they’re not constantly competing against each other, but rather working together to gain a more solid share of the market. This could be particularly effective as we know that a growing number of consumers favour stacking two or more platforms, especially now we’re in an environment where many audiences are spending more time than ever at home.”
With the advent of streaming platforms leading more consumers to turn their back on traditional television, 27 per cent of consumers think broadcasters will adopt services similar to those offered by streaming providers. Broadcasters such as the BBC are already doing this with their on-demand platforms which allow viewers to stream content, sometimes ahead of it airing on television. This approach enables broadcasters to keep up with consumer demand and the competition, while maximising their content.
“While traditional linear TV has seen a resurgence in recent months due to Covid-19 lockdowns, this won’t always be the case,” added Horrell. “We are already seeing some traditional TV providers forging partnership with streaming services to create a more attractive offering. While customers will still be required to pay for the additional streaming platforms, it makes the process of accessing that content more convenient, with 25 per cent of consumers believing we’ll see more of these partnerships in the future.”
Despite their growing popularity, 30 per cent of consumers don’t currently have access to any of the main streaming platforms, a figure that rises to 51 per cent among those aged over 55.
“While forming partnerships with other broadcasters will be key to the survival of OTT providers, there is an opportunity to not only survive but thrive by tapping into this lucrative 30 per cent of consumers who don’t currently subscribe to any platforms. If they were to win the battle for this untouched audience OTT providers would be able to gain valuable market share without having to tempt subscribers away from their competitors’ customer base. With our previous research finding that original content is a huge deciding factor when choosing to subscribe to a streaming platform, we could be just one original content production away from an entirely different streaming landscape,” concluded Horrell.
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