What it is: The 12th edition of Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends Survey found that 55 percent of U.S. households now subscribe to at least one streaming service, and the average streaming video subscriber is paying for three services.
At one time, Apple owned the music industry through audio downloads on iTunes. Then streaming music appeared and killed the audio download business. Streaming is the future because it’s faster and more convenient than buying and handling physical media like CDs or DVDs. That’s why video rental stores are mostly gone.
Apple largely missed the boat on streaming audio and had to acquire Beats for $3 billion dollars to get back into the streaming music industry. Now with Netflix leading the way for streaming video, Apple is late once again to jumping into the streaming video business.
Fortunately for Apple, the streaming video industry is still fairly new and with people subscribing to multiple services, they’ll likely include any Apple streaming service in with Hulu or Netflix subscriptions as well. With Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Apple producing original content along with HBO, the future points to multiple streaming video subscriptions to access original content on all of them. In comparison, streaming audio essentially offers the same music everywhere so once you find one streaming audio service you like, there’s no point in subscribing to another one.
That means streaming video is the future and all those DVDs collecting dust and taking up space will simply fade away over time. Remember Blu-ray? Apple refused to offer Blu-ray drives in their computers and initially this seemed like a mistake. Now it makes perfect sense because physical media is going away.
So expect a future of paying for video streaming services where each service offering unique content of its own to attract subscribers. Just as nobody only watched CBS or NBC shows at the exclusion of the other networks, few people are going to subscribe to a single video streaming service. That’s good news for all video streaming services because that means they can attract the same customers. Video streaming to smartphones and tablets will be the crucial link to let you watch shows anywhere you want. That’s already happening but with faster Internet access on WiFi, this can be more common with less gnashing of teeth with slow Internet connections and lagging video.
How many streaming video services can survive? Most likely just a handful of the larger companies like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Apple. Anyone else will likely get steamrolled into oblivion or acquired so it’s a good time to be working for large video streaming companies and not a good time to be working for smaller ones unless they can offer something unique that will make them an attractive acquisition target.
The future is streaming whether it’s music or video. That much is clear. What that means for the traditional networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) and the traditional Hollywood studios remains to be seen.