Subscription VOD is undoubtedly incredibly popular, and is becoming more popular every day. But what does this mean for the rest of the UK’s digital video market?
The UK digital video market is looking strong – very strong! In fact, in 2014 alone, the market grew by a whopping 55 percent, meaning that the market as a whole is now worth over £600 million. Such growth marks the transition of digital video from a relatively young market to a fully-fledged, lively, and mature one.
One of the biggest drivers of industry growth is Subscription VOD (SVOD), which has more than doubled since 2014 and now accounts for over half of the total digital market’s overall worth – £350 million. The number are even bigger, when looking at Europe in general (see figure).
But what does the huge success of subscription VOD mean for the digital market more generally? Is subscription VOD damaging other digital video services, or bolstering them?
SVOD: The Digital Video Market’s Friend or Foe?
Subscription VOD has experienced a huge surge in popularity. After a fairly disappointing performance in both 2012 and 2013, subscription VOD’s recent success can largely be attributed to the rollout of fibre optic broadband and the wider availability of subscription VOD services on non-traditional devices (most importantly, television – and especially smart television devices).This combination of super speedy internet and more options when it comes to which devices consumers are able to watch on has created something of a perfect storm for subscription VOD.
The digital video market is made up of a variety of different business models – from free short-form content platforms (like YouTube) to paid for long-form content broadcasters (like Netflix).
Subscription VOD is a business model generally applied by long-form content providers (though this may be changing, with YouTube toying with the idea of charging subscriptions). This means that subscription VOD’s most direct competitors are traditional television and video as well as free digital long-form video providers (such as 4OD and BBC iPlayer).
The rise of subscription VOD, then, will not have much of an effect on short-form content providers. However, when it comes to free digital long-form video providers, subscription VOD could have a massive impact.
For example, consumers may become used to watching video with no or very few adverts, which could create problems for those platforms which used advertising as their main means of generating revenue.
On the other hand, with more and more quality content (and increasingly even original content) subscription VOD is attracting more people to digital television in general. And this increased audience (currently the digital audience only makes up 2.9 percent of all TV viewing) is likely to benefit even subscriptions VOD’s main digital competitors, since more people tuning into digital services may mean more viewers for all.
It seems the popularity of subscription VOD may have both a negative and positive effect on the digital video market. Of course, its rise in popularity has and will continue to increase competition in the digital video space, which may be bad news for particular digital broadcasters. However, it is also responsible for getting more people watching digitally, which can only be good for the market overall.