Streamed video on demand (SVOD) is still a relatively new concept. Even 10 years ago, the idea of being able to choose exactly which shows you wish to watch at exactly the times that suit you would have seemed extremely foreign – not to mention exciting! So why is SVOD growing so quickly? And will it ever be the primary source of televised entertainment?
According to the Nielsen Total Audience Report for the first quarter of 2016, the number of US citizens using an SVOD service increased by more than 20 percent in the last year. This means that the number of people with a SVOD subscription has, for the first time, surpassed 50 percent.
Convenience is often cited as being the driving force behind SVOD’s massive growth. And there’s a lot of truth to this. Digital video recorders (DVRs) became incredibly popular by allowing users to record their favourite shows and watch them at a later date without the need for a video tape; SVOD goes even further, removing the need for a DVR box, the need to program which shows you wish to record, and (often) the need to watch or fast-forward through adverts.
Currently, however, there are only a few shows available through SVOD services than through traditional cable and network TV – which also retains the broadcasting rights for a number of hugely popular shows as well as many sports events. Still, as SVOD continues to grow, the amount of content available (both original and third-party) via SVOD services will increase, and this will lead to more people buying into the service.
But SVOD is not without its problems. All this growth also means uncertainty. For one thing, SVOD providers are still yet to settle on the right monetization model. Broadly speaking, there are two models available: advertising and subscription – with Hulu prioritising the ad model, and Netflix opting for the subscription model. At the moment, the subscription model appears to be more popular with consumers. But as content prices continue to increase, it will be interesting to see if these services are able to maintain the quality and quantity of titles available to subscribers.
Whilst these monetization problems have yet to be resolved, what is certain is that consumers love SVOD. And that means that we’re likely to see an increase in the both number of SVOD providers (including existing cable companies moving into the market) and the number of SVOD users. This will be great for consumers, who, in terms of entertainment, may be about to have more choice and more options than ever before. In the very near future, it’s possible that consumers will look back at cable television and the lack of choice that that model offers in horror. At such a point, SVOD will be the primary source of televised entertainment.