When it comes to digital entertainment—video streaming and OTT—there are number of different ways to look at the market. There’s platforms and technology, advertising vs. subscription revenue, content (what it is and who’s producing it), trends, regulations, demographics…. The list goes on. One frequent narrative pits old-school cable and TV broadcast networks (big media) against upstart OTT streamers and content specialists (new media) for viewers’ attention and dollars.
Of course, each is increasingly venturing into the other’s territory and trying to establish a presence. The new media players, not content with simply being the platform of choice for increasing numbers of consumers, are producing their own content—to great success. And a trio of TV networks owns Hulu—one of the primary players in the digital streaming space—which helps the networks further extend the reach of their content along with its revenue.
More recently, the old media players are establishing partnerships with new media content specialists such as Vice Media, Vox Media, and Buzzfeed. At the same time, Vice launched Viceland, a television channel, and Vox is adapting its Curbed real estate site for A&E’s FYI channel. In other words, old media and new media’s paths to market dominance are slowly converging as each establishes outposts in the other’s primary territory.
The fact remains that the shift toward digital is accelerating, most markedly among Millennials. Studies show that people aged 18 to 24 are spending 30% less time per week watching TV compared to 2012. For the 24- to 35-year-old segment, the decline is 18%. The only demographic watching more TV are those aged 50 to 64. Likely as a result of this trend toward digital, eMarketer reports that digital ad spending is on the rise and is projected to reach $77 billion next year, surpassing spending on TV.
In other words, we’re in the midst of a fundamental transformation of business models, and the battle is on between old media and new—with each side trying to figure out the best strategy to capture ‘territory’ (viewership, content, ad dollars) from the other. This means a shift of strategy and a reimagining of the business model to be more flexible, ready to take advantage of technology innovations, shifts in consumer behavior, new content sources, etc.
For old media, the players can no longer rest on their laurels of unchallenged market dominance and monopoly on content. And new media can’t assume that consumers’ willingness to subscribe to multiple streaming services is unlimited. As a matter of fact, as the new media evolves and gains strengths, competition will come as much from within as from without, as the big two (Netflix and Hulu) no longer dominate. Instead, the landscape is becoming increasingly segmented and specialized, as the chart in this article from Business Insider shows.
Ultimately, it’s likely new media’s battle to lose, since the shift towards digital seems inexorable. Although old media still holds sway in at least one area. As we discussed in a recent blog post, access to broadband internet (which streaming depends on) is still owned largely by cable and telecoms.