Streaming has been growing steadily over the past few years, but new developments this week suggest a shift that may well be a watershed moment.
Media giants including Comcast-owned NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS, Disney and Discovery are all changing their strategies into a streaming-heavy approach, and it's not only happening in the USA. In China, iQiyi is acquiring Korean content in a bid to dominate South East Asia, in Europe the streaming market is set to grow to $12.5 Billion by 2023
Discovery may not be first to the party, but CEO David Zaslav said this week that the channel's revised strategy is like “a new SUV”, which would use the road built by Netflix and Amazon to reach customers.
Zaslav said the channel's upcoming slate of content will be “filled with a large amount of fresh content”. Discovery has a deal in place with BBC Studios’ with shows like Blue Planet and Planet Earth.
“If you have Disney+ or Amazon, or any video product, who wouldn’t want what we have? It’s what most women in America watch all the time,” he said, adding that Discovery expects to have “multiple [distribution] partners” to ensure it is “successful domestically and around the world.” Zaslav said that outside the US, Discovery’s strength in the streaming business would be based on its ability to differentiate locally, with local sport and other content tailored to specific territories.
Disney, riding on the back of its recent wave of 60 million subscribers for Disney+, will launch a second streaming service next year called Star. Star will aggregate programming from across the wider swath of Disney platforms, including Fox Television, FX, ABC Studios, 20th Century Studios and others.
Disney head Bob Chapek said, "The incredible success we’ve achieved to date has made us even more confident about the future of our direct-to-consumer business and our ability to be more aggressive in our approach. Going forward, this confidence, coupled with the trends we’re seeing in the multi-channel universe, will lead us to pursue even more innovative and bold initiatives as we continue to grow the business.”
Ofcom, in its Media Nations 2020 report, revealed that 12 million British adults had signed up to streaming services in April, with three million of those having never subscribed before.
Older viewers were significant, with 32% of 55 to 64-year-olds using SVOD services, while one sixth of people aged over 65 watched Amazon and Netflix, compared to 25% and 12% respectively last year.
Disney+, which launched in the UK on the day lockdown came into force, attracted 16% of online adults by early July, and is now the third most-popular SVOD behind Netflix (45%) and Amazon Prime Video (39%).
Public service broadcasters also benefited from locked down viewers, taking a 59% share – the highest figure for six years. The BBC’s iPlayer recorded 570 million programme requests in May, 72% up on the same time last year, while 16 to 34’s use of Channel 4’s on demand service All4 was up 30% in the first two weeks of lockdown.