Video content streaming: We’ve yet to scratch the surface
Streaming services have been among the biggest innovations in content consumption in the past decade, and have become a central way in which many consumers access entertainment and information. In fact, streaming has cemented itself as the main threat for traditional pay-TV services, which consumers have been abandoning in droves for streaming services. Between 2014 and 2020, more than 18 million subscribers left the U.S. pay-TV industry—7 million in 2020 alone —lured by the promise of greater choice, easier access, and lower prices.
Streaming has been around for a little more than a decade, during which time we’ve seen tremendous changes in how we consume content—brought about by Netflix's no advertising subscription model, different ways of releasing content, different types of deals, even the expansion of different services and streaming providers.
However, despite such advances, we’re really still in the nascent phase of the streaming experience.
This famous quote from Winston Churchill, uttered after Britain won its first victory of World War II, could easily apply to the current state of the consumer video streaming experience. When you consider television has been around for 60-plus years, just 10 years of streaming means there’s plenty of room for new ideas. And many of the big players have joined the fray only recently, in the past few years, so they couldn’t possibly be mature. Add in the fact that, by definition, OTT streaming is “over the top”—meaning anyone can play the game—and that opens the door to virtually limitless innovation possibilities.
But as streaming has evolved, consumers have come to expect increasingly more from it—and, judging from the results of Accenture's latest research on streaming, they aren’t getting it.
Consumers feel that bundles are getting bloated and overpriced; that it’s become far too difficult to search and navigate across different services to find what they want (nearly half of consumers subscribe to four or more streaming services ); and that algorithms currently offer little help.
Compounding the problem for providers is a troubling state of brand loyalty among consumers for any particular streaming service. It’s telling, for instance, that a majority of consumers in our research—in some cases upwards of 80% to 85%—said they care more about the content delivered by a particular service than the service itself. And that’s tenuous ground for providers to operate on.
It’s time to give consumers greater control
The time is right for the next phase of innovation that gives consumers much more control over the streaming experience. It’s a chance for the industry’s players to step up and eliminate the pain points that are causing friction for consumers and, ominously, could threaten to erode consumers’ enthusiasm for and increasing adoption of streaming services.
We believe a new element must join the ecosystem: the agency layer. This layer comprises a smart aggregator that sits across multiple platforms, dramatically increasing viewers’ control, or agency, over the content they watch. Such an aggregator can play a big role in eliminating the three major issues currently plaguing the streaming experience and frustrating consumers.
Players thinking about how they could step in as an agency layer to deliver a superior streaming experience should think about some of the key things they’ll need to do to be successful.
There’s a lot of room for players to do more of what they’ve done for a decade—bring innovative ideas to market—to drive the industry’s growth over the next 10 years. It’s time for action.