Streaming Services Boom: Too many, too soon?

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A little over a decade ago, streaming services providing on-demand content were luxuries. With cable dominating the arena of visual entertainment, viewers across the world had to settle for what their TV channels decided to air, and when they decided to air it. Then, with the arrival of Netflix and Hulu, the playing field transformed radically. Over-the-top (OTT) platforms like these, called so because the provide film and TV content over the internet, quickly became a hit with viewers.

Now, over ten years later, the hype among subscribers seems to have died down. What’s even more alarming is that it seems to have been replaced with borderline frustration. Why, you wonder? It appears that the problem is the sheer number of streaming services now available to pick and choose from. Here’s how the scene stands today.

Streaming services in 2019

Estimates vary, but it’s evident that in the United States alone, there are around 200 to 300 OTT platforms providing on-demand content. According to Kevin Westcott, vice chairman at Deloitte, there are over 300 streaming services in the US. With more big players like Disney, Warner Bros, and Apple poised to join the race (and most likely, to get ahead), the number is evidently only on the rise.

India has quickly lapped up the OTT content culture. Factors like a surge in the availability and use of smartphones coupled with a boom in broadband usage have made India hungry for on-demand content. It’s estimated that by 2023, India’s market for streaming video services online could grow up to $5 billion. Among the popular OTT platforms in India, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hotstar top the list.

The best way to enjoy these services is by viewing content online, using a smartphone or a laptop. If you’re interested in purchasing the latest smartphone or laptop, but find the price tag intimidating, Bajaj Markets has the perfect solution for you. On the Bajaj Finserv EMI Store, you can purchase the latest gadgets at attractive discounts. With the end-of-year shopping season coming up, there’s no better time than now to get that smartphone you’ve been eyeing, or that laptop you keep thinking of. Even better is the fact that you could own these gadgets with no-cost EMI plans coupled with zero down payment.

Interestingly, while India continues to remain in love with OTT content, elsewhere, the scenario is changing. The boom in video streaming service providers has left many users disenchanted. Here’s a closer look at how this has come about.




The problems of having too many streaming services available all at once

The boom in on-demand content has created many problems in due course. Research and studies from various sources point to increasing dissatisfaction among users. Here are the primary pain points.

  • The phenomenon of paywalled exclusive content

Paywalling essentially mean charging a subscription for using a service. Most video streaming service providers restrict their content to paid subscribers alone. In addition to this, most of this is exclusive content, meaning you can only find them on specific OTT platforms. The result is that users need to subscribe to tens or hundreds of platforms to enjoy all the exclusive content they want to watch.

Data analytics firm UTA IQ conducted a survey of over 6,000 consumers located across the USA, Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands. The study revealed that among participants, around 70% found that there were too many streaming options to deal with. The fact that these platforms lock down users with their paywalled streaming of exclusive content doesn’t seem to be in good taste, as far as users are concerned.

  • Difficulties in juggling multiple platforms

Having too many streaming platforms also poses another practical problem. It gets tedious to remember the nitty-gritties of each subscription. This includes login IDs, passwords, the duration of each subscription plan, the upcoming renewal date, and the cost of subscription, among other things. As the UTA IQ survey indicated, around 58 percent of OTT content subscribers find it annoying to manage numerous logins.

Also, with multiple streaming options, it becomes difficult to find the content you’re looking for. For instance, if you’re a member on 10 OTT platforms, and you want to watch one particular movie, it can be tedious to perform a search on each streaming site till you find the content you’re looking for. This exercise essentially negates the essence of on-demand content. And the numbers reflect this frustration, with nearly 45% of users already finding it difficult to locate the content they’re interested in.

  • The issue of expiring movies and TV shows

With various OTT platforms vying for the prime spot, it’s not uncommon for these service providers to constantly write off some movies or TV shows from their online databases. As a result, many listings expire, or, in other words, are pulled off from the sites. This is another gripe that users have about these streaming services. When old favorites are earmarked as leaving the air soon, it doesn’t sit well with consumers.

A case in point is the reaction that users had when Netflix announced it was going to pull The Office off from its platform. With NBC set to launch its own streaming service, the hit show had to be removed from Netflix so NBC could add the series to its own platform. This left users with a sour taste, because it meant subscribing to yet another OTT content provider if they wanted to keep watching The Office.

The impact of the boom in streaming services

Ironically, with the balance tipping off the edge, video streaming services may just end up driving users to do the very thing they once intended to stop – piracy. The Global Internet Phenomena Report from Sandvine revealed that last year, after years of continuous decline, BitTorrent’s traffic started to show a rise once more. The reason was traced back to a steep rise in streaming services coupled with too much paywalling and exclusivity in content.

The takeaway

While consumers in other countries may have already reached their saturation points, back home in India, OTT content appears to be thriving, at least for the present. With platforms like Amazon Prime partnering with production houses to bring the latest movies online within weeks of their release on the big screen, it’s possible that there’s a long time to go before India tires of these streaming services.

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