With most human beings under COVID-19 lockdown, on-demand media content has grown by great leaps. Both Netflix and Amazon Prime have continued and accelerated their way into success. OTT platforms and mobile device usage exploded in the last couple of years and are now obviously experiencing another boom.
Content as a key strategy
Both platforms have increased their user database but not only due to the pandemic. In fact, this situation has brought new competitors with itself, being some of them regional and smaller ones, but with a strong curated content proposition. That’s one of the reasons why Netflix and Amazon Prime had no other way but to increase content spending.
Stiff competition has also risen with traditional media firms upping their game, since pre-pandemic times. We have seen a number of new tech solutions hit the market, such as Smart and 3D TVs, painting a more complex picture.
Whilst there’s no doubt traditional media has had to adopt new ways of working to stay competitive in light of changing consumer demands, both traditional media and OTT platforms had placed content as a key strategy for continuous improvement and growth.
Let’s see some content-based actions from the most known ones:
- Netflix was one of the first platforms to add self-produced content (under Netflix Originals) into its mix of hosted content.
- Disney+ has also shown its ability to hit the mark with their content. Runaway hit The Mandalorian boasts a highly impressive 95% popularity rate on Rotten Tomatoes and the show entered the cultural zeitgeist almost instantly.
- The BBC was able to secure the highest festive rating of the decade in the UK by reviving fan-favorite Gavin and Stacey for a one-off special, showing there’s still room for legacy series to bring in significant ROI.
- NBC has also entered the streaming platform fray with the launch of Peacock TV, focused on content that will stimulate the ‘water-cooler’ conversations that came with landmark sitcoms of the past decade.
- Game of Thrones created a legion of fans during its 9-year broadcast run, suggesting each series would be a surefire hit.
Producing quality content across genres requires large budgets, yet gambling on shows that don’t hit the mark is a costly mistake for any media provider. Looking forward, data-driven decisions are fundamental, being both sides of the media spectrum crucial to gain a complete understanding.
The rise of hybrids
Towards the end of the last decade, the lines between traditional media and OTT platforms blurred considerably, with both sides moving into each other’s territory. For example, we’ve seen a significant trend towards audiences streaming their content of choice through their traditional TV set with the advent of Smart TVs and other hardware integrations such as Apple TV and Amazon Fire.
On the flip side, traditional media moves further into the world of on-demand with the launch of own-brand streaming platforms, such as HBO Go and Disney+. Even so, many of these same brands still license many of their most popular shows to the streaming giants. For example, Amazon’s Prime Video features content from HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime.
This shift has largely been down the competitive media landscape. Media companies had to partner and share resources to maintain strong ratings and cater to the diverse tastes and viewing habits of their audiences. In this way, we are now in the presence of a lot of new hybrids when it comes to business models and content displaying trends.
How to measure success
With no doubt about ratings that reach into the tens-of-millions being key indicators of performance, it’s no guarantee that they equate to a higher profit for the media. This can be particularly true for subscription-only platforms, such as Netflix. High streaming figures don’t necessarily equal new subscribers, and without new sign-ups, this business model could be under serious jeopardy.
Traditional media has historically relied on prime advertising to turn a profit, yet the viewer shift to on-demand streaming has hit their ability to guarantee income from this model.
On the other hand, live events such as sports broadcasts, music concerts, and award ceremonies will continue to offer solid ROI for broadcasters.
Diving into such uncertainty when it comes to business models, success will for now need to be measured based on user experience and content quality. After all, user engagement will be the game-changer factor in the future. “Content as the king” is the current traditional media and OTT platforms’ bet when they decide the best routes ahead for the post-pandemic world.