Streaming video blasted beyond the tipping point in 2018 and will command even more attention this year, but challenges lie ahead in the struggle for viewers’ eyeballs and pocketbooks.
The year 2018 was packed up with some fascinating moves. The trifecta of technological advancement, improved connectivity, and video maturity has made streaming more accessible than ever. Steered by original content, the OTT industry witnessed some rivalry among video streaming platforms, business acquisitions by bigger players, promising growth in subscription numbers and the emergence of regional players challenging the industry elites. 2019 will be experiencing some sparks coming into action which were announced or discussed last year. This list includes the launch of video streaming services by Disney, Warner Media, AT&T, and Amazon’s video game streaming platform, among others.
India’s hyper-competitive market for OTT content has attracted global as well as local players to capture the rapidly-growing video and online content streaming market. The number of players competing in India’s OTT market has dramatically increased, growing nearly 4x in the last 6 years from nine players in 2012 to 32 players in 2018, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group. However, despite the surge in the OTT market, retention of consumers remains a challenge for all the major players. Nearly half of the consumers uninstall online streaming apps within a week of using it for the first time making it difficult for all the video-streaming platforms to compete for the race of top three. It is not just the number of new entrants in the OTT market, the original content streamed by OTT players is also evolving at a rapid rate. Since a key way to woo the Indian consumer is to generate new original content, most of the players including Netflix, Amazon Prime Hotstar, and Voot are betting big on various types of original content. Despite the American giants Amazon and Netflix entering the country, Hotstar still easily holds the top spot in the Indian VoD and video streaming market. Hotstar invested around USD 300 million in the OTT market. Both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video infused USD 70 to 80 million in their respective video streaming platforms. Navigating India’s market has proven challenging for video-streaming giants Netflix and Amazon Video. And a big part of the adversity is the complex nature of the country’s linguistic landscape.
Netflix is choosing to focus resources on developing its Hindi and English offerings, producing original Netflix series. In contrast, Hotstar provides programming in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada, in addition to Hindi and English.
Live streaming is taking off in 2019
While it has been around for some time, live streaming is taking off in 2019. The video is projected to account for 82 percent of internet traffic by 2022, a growing share of which will take the form of live streaming. Streaming to Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, and similar platforms lies at the heart of any social-first content marketing strategy. Video consumption on social media began as a rather passive experience, with one-way broadcasts and limited interactivity to blame. Today, Facebook Live supports two-way interactions with reduced latency, as well as video chats through Facebook Messenger.
OTT adoption grows
Each year, more and more viewers do away with traditional satellite and cable services. So what is it going to really take for audiences to transition entirely to OTT services? Analysts have long held sports broadcasts as the saving grace for traditional television. But streaming services now deliver these programs directly to viewers’ living rooms over an internet connection. A final consideration previously in favor of satellite and cable sports broadcasting is the inherent latency of HTTP adaptive streaming formats. While OTT content has been delivered with far more latency than legacy TV in the past, new alternatives with ultra-low latency, WebRTC, and SRT offer near-real-time delivery from screen to screen.
Mobile defines the future of streaming
Mobile defines the future of streaming and will continue to dominate in 2019. PCs are forecast to account for only 19 percent of internet traffic by 2022; whereas smartphones will account for a whopping 44 percent. For this reason, vertical and square video formats will all but eradicate the traditional landscape format on social media. While landscape videos will still have a place in the world of broadcasting, vertical and square formats will also begin to pop up outside of social media. It is yet to be seen which format will reign supreme in 2019.
AR, VR, AI, and ML
The combined market size of AR and VR will reach around USD 215 billion by 2021. Facebook rolled out virtual reality live streaming in July of 2017, and then 3D-180 video in June 2018. As engagement with these formats continues to increase, marketers will be the first to adapt. The immersive era of virtual reality is 100 percent underway. And in 2019, developers and manufacturers will pave the way as they further hone this technology.
The amount of streaming data in the world grows exponentially each day. More data means more targeted content; but without a way to catalog the streams in real time, targeting is not possible. Enter Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These technologies will continue to improve automation and indexing. In 2019, there will be more sophisticated forms of real-time stream indexing. Beyond that, real-time audio recognition will be used to prevent copyright infringement. The OTT industry has already got a glimpse of the power of AI through the recommendation engine. Recommendation engines are going to be smarter and better with their recommendations in 2019, thereby increasing users’ lifespan on any website they are browsing on.
Streaming video blasted beyond any tipping point in 2018 and will command even more attention this year, but challenges lie ahead in the fight for viewers’ eyeballs and pocketbooks. There is no question consumers love watching, and binging, TV and movies via subscription streaming services. Consumers’ embrace of Netflix and other services continued to rise in 2018. And many homes are watching more than one service. The shunning, shaving, and cutting of the traditional pay-TV cord and the ascendance of content via broadband – admittedly another cord that comes into the home, is supported in a survey released by Deloitte. The average subscriber in the survey paid for three services. However, as streaming video spreads, the trend lines have blurred. That is because not all the homes that have access to Netflix and other streaming services are paying for them. There is a lot of sharing going on. The next 12 months will bring more streaming options and continued disruption across M&E landscape.