It’s a Saturday night and you’re home alone. You switch on the TV, but instead of switching to your favorite channel, you connect it to your premium Netflix account.
You missed the latest episode of Riverdale, but you almost don’t mind because you know you can stream it on your next free time. The only reason you want to watch it as soon as possible is to join the online discussion about the latest episode.
Five minutes in the episode and you’re already tweeting how the show makes you feel. You love Veronica’s dress. You think Archie needs to tone down on the intense staring. Betty needs a chill pill. Jughead is complicated but so swoon-worthy. The suspense is killing you. #BestShowEver
After finishing the most recent episode, you’re about to sleep but a new show catches your eye. The third season of Daredevil was just released, and you and your office friends loved the first two seasons. There’s no way in hell you’ll miss this one.
Knowing that your officemates would be talking about it come Monday, you decide to finish the series by Sunday night. You’re now sure you’re in for a sleepless night.
You’re not alone, though, because this reflects the watching pattern of many others like you.
Over-the-top (OTT) video streaming services are now changing the way people consume media, and there’s now a more urgent need to consume content as quickly as possible.
What is over-the-top video streaming?
Over-the-top (OTT) is the term used to describe the use of the internet to stream TV shows and movies, without having to rely on traditional cable and satellite pay-TV services. It’s basically like the typical VHS and DVD rental shops from the early 2000’s, except it’s digital and the shows and movies are streamed online.
It became popular when TV networks agreed to sell streaming rights of old TV shows to digital media services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. However, these services, among many others, have also started producing their own original content the past couple of years.
OTT can be broken down into three different revenue models.
Subscription-based services (SVOD) are among the more popular ones, and this includes the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. Transactional services (TVOD), on the other hand, allows users to pay for only the pieces of content they way to consume, and iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and Vimeo on Deman follow this model. There are also free and ad-supported services (AVOD) such as Pluto TV ad Crackle that earn from the ads, which are the online equivalent of commercials.
Which one is better is highly subjective since each one has its own set of pros and cons. For some, the free OTT services are enough, but other still prefer what the paid subscription accounts offer.
The decline of streaming service
There are now more viewers watching on Netflix, NOW TV, and Amazon in the UK than those who do on pay-TV and cable subscriptions.
Though traditional TV watching remains to be popular, there’s a decline in the 16-36 age demographics. Pay-TV services have also sustained its popularity in recent years, but it saw its first decline this 2018.
Multiple reasons can be cited for this. With cable subscriptions almost ten times more expensive than a Netflix or Hulu subscription, this comes as no surprise. If they can view their favorite shows without commercials or interruptions, for a much smaller price, then why not go for it?
Majority of these OTT services also allow users to stream their shows on multiple devices, and some services such as Hulu let users stream on unlimited devices for an additional fee. Some OTT video streaming services, on the other hand, also allow downloading for the videos to be viewed offline, like Netflix.
While the masses still rely on telecomm companies for their phone and internet connection, more consumers are preferring to opt out of the cable subscription.
The rise of streaming services
A decade ago, TV viewers watch shows together. Though they watch it separately at home, viewers nationwide tuned in from different living rooms, following regular television programming, watching the same episodes at the same time. They went to work next day knowing that their office friends watched the same episode from the same shows.
Now, people have to be careful when talking about the latest episode on public or communal spaces, in case there’s someone in the room who hasn’t watched the most recent one. People no longer have to tune in at the same time, thanks to numerous streaming services offering access to the latest episodes easily viewable any time of the day, any day of the week.
With just a click of a finger, viewers now have access to thousands of shows, with entire seasons they can easily binge watch. With some services allowing users to watch on multiple devices and not just on their laptops, users can watch anywhere, even outside the comforts of their homes.
Need to watch a new episode as soon as possible? It’s possible to stream on your smartphone while you’re on your commute on your way home.
There’s now an urgency to watch a show before you get spoiled with random office chit-chat or long rants on Facebook about what happened in the latest Game of Thrones episode.
Netflix challenged large TV networks when it started producing shows of its own. It started as a pay-per-rent DVD mailing service, but the advent of the internet led to the owners to innovate and start a TV and movie streaming service.
In 2014, Netflix outbid industry giants HBO and AMC when it acquired the rights to produce the remake of David Fincher’s political drama House of Cards. The Kevin Spacey headliner won Emmys and Golden Globes, and went on for three seasons.
After House of Cards, it received lackluster success for other original shows like Marco Polo. However, the ball started rolling when it released the hit prison drama Orange is the New Black, another widely decorated series. Netflix continues to produce critical success for its other shows, and even originally produced dramas based on Marvel characters, including Daredevil, The Punisher, and Luke Cage. Other cult favorites including Stranger Things, Sense 8, and the recently popular The Haunting of Hill House.
They no longer have to wait for next week to see what happens next, since the episodes per season of the Netflix originals, majority of it anyway, are released at the same time.
Netflix’s forage into foreign territory shows that it’s not just the western market that’s been captivated. It now produces original shows in different countries, like the German supernatural series Dark and the Joseon-period drama Mr. Sunshine. The increasing number of subscribers who are binge-watching non-English originals lead to more local shows to being produced.
Hulu also produces its own content, and the 2018 hit The Handmaid’s Tale proves that Netflix isn’t the only one capable of producing quality shows.
Amazon also has its own streaming service, offering TV and movie streaming for a small monthly subscription fee. Amazon Prime Video’s advantage over Netflix is its ability to live stream sports. It was the first streaming service that acquired non-exclusive rights to stream NFL’s Thursday Football Nights.
This is considered a huge feat for an online streaming service since sports viewing still relies predominantly on cable channels. It’s one of the primary reasons why sports fan still pay hefty prices for a cable subscription every month. Amazon claims to be focusing on this market and aims to stream all sporting events on their service.
HBO has caught on the trend and started their own streaming service. However, it only streams shows and movies that’s on the network’s channels, which is a drawback for most viewers.
The market is getting saturated with various streaming services, each one offering its own sets of pros and cons. There’s still no service that’s perfect, and each one seems to have a specific target in mind. But due to the low prices, it’s even possible for users to have an account on multiple services.
The internet has changed a lot of things, and it’s only expected that entertainment is one of the things that will experience the most obvious shift from traditional to digital. For better or worse, online streaming is drastically changing the TV-viewing landscape.