This week in Harvard Business Review, I have a long analysis of the so-called “streaming wars” that are disrupting the media industries. Incumbent producers and distributors, tech companies, and consumers themselves are all creating vast amounts of new content, experimenting with a wide variety of ways to distribute and monetize it.
From Disney+ to YouTube, from Peacock to Snap Chat, from DirectTV Now to Instagram, it’s an abundant if confusing time for consumers!
Who will win, or at least last long enough to make a profit? The article suggests, based on extensive research, that different age groups are gravitating towards different models for producing, consuming, and paying for video content. Would-be winners of the streaming wars would do well to understand the characteristics of each, so much the better for balancing offerings so as to appeal to each.
The risks here are enormous. Give away too much to younger audiences, and risk cannibalizing existing bundled PayTV subscriptions that pay for the innovation. Offer a one-size-fits-all service that compromises too much, and you muddle the message.
One thing is for sure: the platinum age of low-cost or even free content can’t last forever, or even much longer. A reckoning is coming, sooner rather than later.
As with all industry disruptions, the Big Bang is followed by the Big Crunch.