Where Entrepreneurs Can Innovate in the Streaming Service Space The way we watch TV has changed, and technology needs to grow with it.
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There are a lot of companies focused on improving the way we watch TV — companies like Apple, Amazon and Google to name a few. They join others like Samsung, Roku and Comcast in pursuit of the same prize: establishing themselves as the keeper of your family room.
And who can blame them? The world's largest media and technology companies are rolling out new content at a record pace and spent $220 billion globally to create and acquire content in 2021 alone. But amassing this portfolio of content is only half the battle, of course. Exposing it to the consumers who are willing to hand over their credit card in order to view it is another battle in itself. The pursuit of those consumer eyeballs and the marketing spend that supports it is an opportunity worthy of the world's most powerful companies — and one they are aggressively pursuing.
The time is now
The reason so many of the world's most successful companies are going after this market now is because the emergence of streaming has fundamentally changed the way we watch TV. The fact that streaming services are rapidly replacing the hours we have traditionally spent watching network and cable TV is only part of the story.
The growth in popularity of streaming services is not only changing what we watch and where we watch it, but it has also radically changed how we watch. This change seems to have largely flown under the radar, resulting in a rapidly growing consumer segment that is not getting the attention it deserves, even from big tech.
TV is changing for consumers
Streaming is changing the way we consume entertainment and creating new freedoms in how we do so. Streaming is the new way to watch TV, with 82% of American households having at least one streaming subscription and 53% of Americans having at least three. Streaming has without a doubt changed the way we think about at-home entertainment, and the way we consume content has shifted with it.
As more and more of our viewing hours move from linear TV to on-demand streaming services, consumers have been able to find and watch what they want, when they want and also where they want it. As a result, many viewers are spending less of those hours watching their television with their feet up and more watching on non-TV devices that are both portable and easily accessible. And this is not just a mobile story.
Despite significant supply chain disruptions, PC shipments increased 15% in 2021, and these devices, particularly laptops, are playing a big role in this shift. In fact, the majority of adults now watch videos on non-TV devices daily, a trend that is driven by both Gen-Z and millennials but is present across consumers of all age groups.
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New behavior creates new opportunities
While big tech wrestles for control of the lean-back experience, more and more consumers are exercising their newfound freedom and leaning into their video consumption across an array of devices. After all, streaming content is available on-demand and can easily be watched when and where people choose — whether sitting at their desk, at the coffee table with their laptop or just about anywhere on their tablet or phone.
Consumers now have more control in other ways as well, in the form of discovery, organization and consumption of today's nearly unlimited content. But as we have all learned, seemingly infinite choice comes with a price. Today more than ever before, finding what to watch is an unpleasant and difficult experience with many consumers reporting that they spend more than 20 minutes trying to choose what they want to watch next, only to eventually just give up and put on a tried and true old favorite. They don't start out with the intention to rewatch that Friends episode for the umpteenth time, but that's exactly where many end up.
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Leaning into the consumers
Many consumers are beginning to expect more from their entertainment experience. Instinctively, they know that the discovery and organization of content can be done a whole lot better, especially as they increase their time on non-TV devices that can give entertainment.
Consumers are looking for personalized recommendations based on everything they watch, not just the options suggested to them by a single streaming service. They want to see curated lists of what's new or trending right alongside recommendations from influencers and even their own friends and family. And they want recommendations tailored to their personal preferences as well as a single watchlist that encompasses all their streaming services and lets them play their next favorite from any of them with just one click. In a nutshell, they want a next-generation TV guide designed from the ground up for today's streaming-centric experience — and one that isn't tethered to just the TV in their family rooms.
Could the solution come from the tech behemoths? Of course it can. But their impressive capacity for innovation seems to be centered on the lean-back experience of the living room. This is creating an opportunity for other highly innovative technology companies to leverage the full power of the web to deliver a compelling experience for video discovery, organization, sharing and consumption — a better model, and one that moves with consumers from their laptop or tablet to their mobile phone, and even right back to their connected TV when they are ready to put their feet up.
Someone is going to deliver it, and it may be a David rather than a Goliath.
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