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The emergence of streaming has changed the way we watch television. I know what you’re thinking – thanks for the newsflash, now tell me something I don’t know. But here’s the thing: the fact that streaming services are rapidly replacing the hours we’ve traditionally spent watching network and cable TV is only half the story.
The emergence of streaming services is not only changing what we watch and where we watch it, but it has also radically changed How? ‘Or’ What we look at it. This is the news that, curiously, no one seems to be talking about. More importantly, it is the growing need of consumers that is not taken into account. Leaders need to understand these trends and the broader implications for how they interact and deliver their offerings to consumers looking for new ways to look.
The way we watch television is changing
Nearly 78% of US households have at least one subscription video-on-demand service (e.g. Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, etc.) and, perhaps even more amazingly, 55% of Americans have more than one. So yes, streaming is important, and it has changed the way entertainment is consumed and who provides it. But the way we digest this content has also changed dramatically.
There’s no doubt that many of us still like to sit with our feet up and watch our TVs, a fact not lost on the tech giants who are constantly spending and strategizing in an attempt to take control of your living room (think Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, etc.). Who can blame them? Being the guardian of the salon is sure to be a treasure that is more than worthy of their investment.
But here’s the thing, as more hours of entertainment shift from linear TV to on-demand streaming services, consumers have become free to consume what they want, when they want and or they want it. As a result, more and more people are consuming their entertainment with their feet planted firmly on the ground, or at least much closer to their screen. More and more people are watching videos on devices other than TV every day – from phones to tablets to laptops – a number that has grown significantly in recent years.
There are those who may dismiss this trend as nothing more than an outgrowth of the role our phones play in our lives, but I think there’s a lot more going on here. Believe it or not, PC deliveries (desktops, laptops and workstations) increased by approximately 9.9% in 2021 to more than 339.8 million PCs. That’s more than any year since 2013 – a number that analysts say would have been much higher had it not been for the global supply chain disruption. Make no mistake, consumers are taking over and redefining their entertainment consumption.
Viewers expect more from their entertainment
There are several reasons for this change. One, of course, is freedom. Streaming content is available on demand and hence can be easily watched whenever and wherever people want. But there are also more subtle benefits – those that come in the form of content discovery, organization, and even consumption.
Watching TV on a TV can be a great experience. But figuring out what to watch, especially in a streaming-centric world, can be overwhelming for today’s consumers. You know the drill – open that clunky TV interface, open a streaming service, scroll left, right, down, and back. When nothing scratches the itch, you quit that app and open another one and repeat the same exercise. Almost 20 minutes pass and you find yourself frustrated and playing an episode of Office that you have already seen at least four times. It’s not what you had in mind, but it’s getting late and you’re tired of thinking about it.
Viewers are demanding more from their entertainment, which means executives need to pay attention to developing trends in content consumption.
Working towards a better way of looking
The industry is full of opportunities for innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs to create more thoughtful watch experiences for consumers. Think about it – content discovery and organization can be vastly improved when done on the web. Consumers reasonably expect features like universal search that cover all of their streaming content. Leaders need to understand that consumers are looking for personalized recommendations based on all the content they’ve watched.
Let’s not underestimate the freedom that comes from not being hostage to a single device. Consumers should be able to transfer your web experience from their laptop or tablet to their mobile phone, and with an app, even to their connected TV when they’re in the mood to relax. All of this is possible with today’s technologies.