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The streaming market is getting messy

11 September 2019

In the beginning, there was Netflix.

Then, when other companies saw the meteoric growth of Netflix and the potential to spin a profit, they also got in on the streamed video on demand (VOD) game.

Here in New Zealand we have Neon and Lightbox, two "also ran" players who are really just "be there or be square" options provided by Spark and SkyTV. Neither is really taking the market by storm and they're often the subject of bundled-deals... you know, "join Spark and get 12 months of free Lightbox". I never did take them up on that offer.

Overseas, the streaming market is also hotting up significantly -- and that could be a problem.

Whilst Netflix remains the undisputed king of streaming VOD, others are now chewing at its coat-tails and this proliferation of new entrants threatens to actually damage the viability and desirability of the whole concept (IMHO).

When Netflix was the only game in town it was pretty easy to justify the monthly spend.

As I toiled away behind my camera and on the keyboard, the old sheila could binge-watch as much content as she liked -- for just a small monthly fee.

We didn't need or want SkyTV and its ridiculously over-priced, poorly packaged offerings and we sure as hell didn't want to be assaulted by advertising every 6 minutes by tuning into FTA TV broadcasts. No, Netflix was great.

In fact, after getting Netflix, the Raspberry Pi running Kodi (and addons - wink, wink) didn't see much action at all.

But now things are probably changing -- if not here (straight away) then certainly in overseas markets.

Disney has pulled its content from other streaming services to set up its own VOD service -- for a small monthly fee.

Apple has just announced its own Apple TV+ streaming service that will be available -- for a small monthly fee.

Let's not forget Amazon Prime and its streaming VOD option that gives you access to some very desirable content such as The Grand Tour -- for a small monthly fee.

I could also mention YouTube Premium, Hulu, HBO, Sling TV, DirecTV and almost 100 others, each of which is available for what is usually -- a small monthly fee.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Each of these services has some of its own unique content that they use to try and get people to subscribe. However, often that small sliver of content alone is not enough to justify the "small monthly fee".

That leaves consumers with a difficult choice -- exactly which services do you subscribe to?

I guess we've gone from having a single supplier to an absolute glut of options but, in the process, we've made it a lot harder to find and watch the content we really want.

In a way, the streaming VOD market has almost become a copy of where SkyTV was at a year ago -- quality has been replaced by quantity and if you want to watch the stuff that's interesting you have to pay a fortune to get a massive amount of stuff you don't want to watch.

Could it be that this explosion in the streamed VOD marketplace will actually send people back to using KODI (and plug-ins, wink wink)?

I know that we've fired up the Raspberry Pi a couple of times this week and I'm thinking I might upgrade it to an RP4.

What do readers think?

Is the streamed VOD market about to become so fragmented that it's simply going to end up like SkyTV where it's just not cost-effective any more?

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