One of the hot topics at Streaming Media East was, of course, how streaming will affect the existing TV infrastructure. There was no debate about whether streaming video could challenge existing platforms, but observations on how the existing platform can cope with this development. As can be expected from the name of the conference, the speakers as well as the audience were leaning more towards streaming rather than linear TV platforms.
Changes in the TV world show that streaming content has the attention of all the involved players. The discussion looked at consumer demands as the main driver behind changes of the existing content offering.
One of the interesting comments was that with the advent of more focused channels, a smaller subscription base is a viable alternative to the existing infrastructure. In the past, providers needed a large number of subscribers to become profitable. A large provider needed 80 to 100 million subscribers to be significant, but today some focused channels are profitable with just 400,000 subscribers. As was also mentioned in other panel discussions, the current trend in the USA is towards focused content channels rather than a broad content covering. As one example, Vevo mentioned that it is developing channels that focus on one person only. The channel will just cover information aimed at this particular person, which is a very interesting concept.
From a consumer perspective, most still favor the set-top box use model, but this also depends on the age of the consumer. Millenials are seen not only as cable cutters, but many never had cable TV to begin with. In another session, the company discussed the changes in content offerings based on what platform was used as well as demographic differences. Unsurprisingly, Millenials are more likely to use mobile devices for video streaming compared to other generations. Several speakers stated that more than 50% of their streamed content is currently watched on mobile devices. Ooyala said that two and half years ago, only 2% of their content was watched on a mobile device, but this number is now over 40%.
During a session discussing the future of video streaming, the importance of consumer drive was mentioned as the basis for many new services and companies offering streaming video with new concepts. While existing providers are trying to make existing offerings more flexible, these companies are creating brand new platforms that allow paying for content on a show by show basis. This is not like Apple TV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast though. These providers create a platform that allows content creators to set prices for their content on a case by case basis. This means that a short movie may cost a dollar or less, or much more. as for instructional videos, for example.
Turning to future developments, VR caught some attention as a possibility for complete new content forms. While VR in its current form was seen as not really competitive at the moment, content ideas for VR hardware are already being explored. One of the discussed ideas was the possibility of creating environments at sports events. For example, how many people will be able to sit ringside at a world championship boxing events or have seats in a skybox during any major sport event? From a pure money perspective there is always more demand than seats, otherwise the prices wouldn’t be so high. Instead of one person, a VR camera could allow users to be virtually part of the event. This is a really interesting concept for VR developers. – NH