What Does the Future Hold for Live Streaming?
Over Christmas, TV broadcasters typically rolled out their big guns, and families pored over the two-week special festive TV guide.
11:30 16 January 2020
Yet this year, there is a wind of change in the air. Who actually watches TV these days, anyway? A decade ago, that would have been a laughable question, but today, it is the sort of thing you can hear coming from the lips of gen-z-ers.
According to the Chinese proverb, when the wind of change blows, some build walls and others build windmills. TV has been our primary source of entertainment for more than half a century now. If its time really is coming to an end, are the broadcasters able to adjust or is the age of streaming bringing in all new players?
Any stream will do
Back in 2015, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple said words to the effect that he has seen the future of TV and it is app-shaped. Even Apple can’t be right 100 percent of the time. In the intervening four years, TV apps have shown insignificant growth, broadcast TV has stagnated and streaming has gone through the roof.
Netflix is the obvious example as far as mainstream viewing is concerned. What is really interesting to note is that when a new series or movie is released, whether it’s the new season of Game of Thrones or an original movie like Bird Box it generates exactly that type of excitement that used to be brought about by the Christmas specials.
At the last count, there were over 158 million Netflix subscribers worldwide. Yes, each country has subtly different content, and of course the debates will rage about accessing Netflix USA in Japan or Netflix UK in South Africa. But regional variations aside, it is popular for reasons of pragmatism. When it comes to choice, flexibility and price, it simply offers more entertainment on better terms for less money compared with satellite or cable.
Impact on sport coverage
It’s not all boxsets and movies, however. Look at a broadcaster like Fox and you can understand why they are worried. Those multi million dollar deals with the major sports franchises no longer seem like such a great asset when people can simply turn to NFL OnePass or even Unibet mobile apps for live sports streams. Yet to return to our earlier metaphor, some broadcasters have been busy building windmills. ESPN, for example, has become the go-to online sport resource and streaming is an increasing important part of the product offering.
It’s all about the experience
Streaming’s gradual ascendency over traditional TV is manifest, but as we look to the future, the question is a more fundamental one. Increasingly, entertainment is about experiences as opposed to choosing one platform over another. To stay relevant, streaming needs to look more broadly and be ready to compete with a wide range of alternative experiences that derive from such diverse sources as Airbnb travel to VR gaming.