Over the past few years, consumers have seen several new products and services that were once considered a breakthrough become mainstream. From smartphones and autonomous cars to VR headsets and smart home devices, it seems that everything that once belonged to the realm of science fiction could be the reality of the day after tomorrow. But perhaps one of the more interesting revolutions has been one of the quieter ones: online media streaming has become a staple at every household, as consumers value the immense convenience it offers. As streaming devices are flooding the market, it is exciting to see what our preferences are and what they could tell us about where the industry is heading.
The Netflix Revolution
Online streaming is not a new idea – but it has gained traction in the past few years, as internet penetration has increased around the globe. That is in large part also thanks to smart devices, especially smartphones, that have managed to bring online connectivity to a wider pool of consumers. Even though live streaming was already taking off, mainly because of the increasing interest in news and sports events being streamed to global audiences, on-demand streaming truly became a mainstream activity with the advent of Netflix. The online video streaming service revolutionised the industry and became a household name. Its immense success soon saw its competitors adapt and rise to claim a bigger chunk of the pie. These include Hulu, which beat Netflix to some prestigious shows and is well-known for offering popular animated shows like the Simpsons, and Amazon Prime Video, just the latest expansion of the popular online retailer Amazon to new domains.
Netflix may be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about streaming, but online video streaming is far from the only streaming service regularly endorsed by consumers. Music streaming has steadily gained ground, thanks in part to Apple’s iTunes and to online music streaming subscription service providers like Spotify. The rise of gaming and eSports has also revealed another emerging – and very profitable – market: online streaming of gaming content. Online platform Twitch is the undeniable frontrunner in the niche market. It has over 15 million daily active users and up to 3.2 million broadcasters per month. It features over 9 billion channels while viewers watch roughly 44 billion minutes of content monthly, with over 21% of viewing dedicated to eSports tournaments. As bigger crowds are drawn to eSports tournaments, it seems that online streaming of gaming content will only continue to rise, with services like Twitch becoming more and more popular.
The Streaming Media Device Market Is Rising
Alongside online streaming, another market is experiencing immense growth: the streaming media device market. It encompasses devices that are built specifically to play and control online video streaming services by connecting a display – such as a TV or a computer screen – to the internet. This allows for more direct and convenient online streaming. According to research, the market is booming: its worldwide value reached $89.3 billion in 2018, and it is estimated that it will grow to $286.7 billion by 2025. This means that the industry will keep expanding at a 15.7% CAGR between 2019 and 2025. Big firms have realised the potential of the market and have developed their own streaming media devices, offering several options to consumers, who seem quite content with the choice offered. According to Statista, as of March 2019, 22% of consumers strongly disagreed and 28% somewhat disagreed with the statement that there were not enough options when it comes to streaming media devices in the US. Only 8% of consumers surveyed strongly agreed that the options offered were not enough, while 17% somewhat agreed.
Smartphones and smart TVs seem to be extremely popular as far as streaming devices go – but it is interesting to point out that consumers might change preferences depending on the content they want to stream. When it comes to entertainment on the go, mobile devices are usually the most popular choice. This is true not only for streaming TV series – we all know that Netflix has a mobile app that has saved many travellers from boredom on long connecting flights – but for more niche markets like online casinos. Betway and several other well-known casinos offer live-streamed casino games, which are often played on dedicated mobile casino apps. Mobile devices are also preferred for games that were designed with mobile players in mind, like Fortnite. By contrast, when watching live streaming of longer and more elaborate games like Overwatch or Dota 2, smart TVs make more sense, as they typically offer better resolution and a much larger screen.
Online streaming is becoming a very popular choice for all types of consumers – and in an industry that is already evolving so much, it will be interesting to see what the next bold move will be.