The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has been good for streaming services. Type of.
It is well documented that the still raging pandemic has accelerated consumer streaming adoption, especially among older viewers. However, media and streaming executives who met this week at CES 2021 said that while shutdowns helped boost adoption and increase viewership, it also led to more competition and stronger consumers.
"Covid was definitely the turning point for the introduction of OTT, which was obviously wonderful for us in the streaming business," said Stefanie Meyers, svp of Starz Distribution, in a presentation on Tuesday. “But there is also the more experienced customer. It used to be when you could just get someone to subscribe. Now we have to constantly justify the time the customer spends on each of our products or shows. So this is a bit of a double-edged sword. "
With more market opportunities, so does competition – and adapting to new competitors requires quick decisions and the further development of benchmarks for success. This month, all eyes are on Discovery +, the new lifestyle streamer from Discovery Inc. launching over 50 original series and a huge catalog of unwritten content.
"The more streamers like Discovery + join, the more the competition is shifting to a different type of competitive set and the more people are looking for the audience you're looking for," said Ann Sarnoff, CEO and Chair of WarnerMedia Studios and Networks said Wednesday. "And of course that raises the bar and lets you think more creatively about how to find your fans."
Where is the predetermined breaking point?
Other executives are shaking off the increasingly crowded market. More choice gives consumers and businesses more options, said Andrew McCollum, CEO of Philo, whose MVPD virtual service provides linear TV access to many of Discovery's cable features.
"It's great to offer options to consumers," said McCollum on Tuesday. “These services often provide new original content as well as deeper access to library content that may not previously have been available. In that regard, it can be a great addition to what you get through Philo.
“I was wondering where the line is, where people feel like it's really overwhelming to have so many of these different SVOD services where you have different credentials, different billing details, different user interfaces, different content for each of them them and you have I really need to remember where to go and how to get it, ”he added. "Ultimately, I don't know when we will reach this breaking point."
Ad-supported services also keep an eye on this breakpoint. "I think there has been a lot of talk and talk about how many SVODs the consumer can support and how many will support, and I think you will see more experimentation on the consumer side," said Scott Reich, svp of programming at ViacomCBS- own Pluto TV. "Because there are so many different options, ultimately the consumer will decide what the new package will be based on your habits, based on your budget, and based on what is important to you."
New programming trends are emerging
Before that bubble bursts, however, streamers are seeing high demand for program types that arise out of boredom at home. Overall viewership has increased, executives said, and consumers have become interested in new ways of programming as daily habits have changed to enable distance learning and home exercise.