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The Future of Streaming: Predictions and Possibilities

Curious about what the future of streaming will be? Below we explore streaming providers and their pros and cons to make some predictions.

With access to fast, reliable Internet, streaming has become the popular choice for TV, live sports, and cinema at home. As a result, the expectations and usage habits of today’s consumers are very different from what they were even just 10 years ago. People want content on demand, and they want it to be relevant to their interests and in whichever format best suits their needs. 

There are numerous streaming platforms to choose from to get access to a variety of shows and movies, and each one offers a different experience with different programming. With streaming platform competition continuing to heat up, a lot of new content is available, but there’s a limit to the number of streaming platforms for which a consumer is willing to pay. 

This article looks closely at the present moment — breaking down the pros and cons of streaming, available streaming services, etc. — in order to forecast the future of streaming.

The Pros and Cons of Streaming

Streaming is the power behind some of the most popular apps, such as Netflix and YouTube, but what exactly does streaming mean? It means the data you’ve requested over your Internet connection is sent to your device in real time as it’s playing. So you can watch it right away rather than having to wait for the whole file to download first. 

Streaming allows faster access, and it’s a great way to save storage space on your home devices and Apple and Android mobile devices.

However, streaming requires a high-speed Internet connection, especially if you’re going to have multiple devices streaming at the same time. Not sure how much Internet you need to start streaming? Check out this guide on getting as much Internet data as you need without overpaying.

Streaming also requires a compatible, connected device. From a smartphone to a smart TV, most people have a way to stream. Still, at the speed that tech moves, the device you use today to stream might not be optimal for streaming in five years.

Present Day Streaming Services

Streaming services have become very popular for consuming content, and Netflix alone is responsible for 15% of global Internet traffic, boasting 225 million subscribers as of May 2022. But subscriptions and viewership have grown for many other providers over the past five to 10 years, such as Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Apple TV+, ESPN+, Peacock, FuboTV, and more. The competition offers some insights into the future of streaming. Below is a breakdown of the top eight video-on-demand (VOD) streaming services based on their number of subscribers.
  1. Netflix: 225 million subscribers
  2. Prime Video (Amazon): 205 million subscribers
  3. Disney Plus: 130 million subscribers
  4. ViacomCBS (includes Paramount Plus, Showtime, and others): 46.7 million subscribers
  5. Hulu: 45 million subscribers
  6. HBO Max: 42 million subscribers
  7. Apple TV: 40 million subscribers
  8. Peacock: 54 million U.S. “sign-ups”; 20 million U.S. monthly active accounts
Meanwhile, other players, such as NBCUniversal, Discovery Plus, ESPN, and even newer streaming platforms such as Shudder, see their subscriber lists grow every day. Additionally, some mergers may further shake up the market, such as HBO Max and Discovery Plus becoming a combined streamer once Discovery and WarnerMedia merge into Warner Bros. Discovery.

The Future of Streaming

What might the future of streaming look like in, say, 2030?

There’s a few possible scenarios to consider. The bigger players could continue to dominate the market, eventually causing smaller streaming platforms to fold and offering fewer provider options to consumers. Alternatively, as more and more streaming services are added to the market, we could see the TV and VOD industry develop into a diversified and cooperative ecosystem that offers a variety of consumer choice and demand-driven competitive pricing. In this scenario, in order to keep up with competition, we could see changes taking place with some of the platforms dominating the market, like Netflix, in terms of offering an ad-supported option for those who wish to pay less monthly. In either of these future market scenarios, would VOD streaming completely take over the entertainment market and eliminate the need for traditional broadcast television or theater experiences altogether?

What about a different scenario? One where the content producers hold all the cards. As producers get better and faster at creating and releasing original content, they could choose to bypass existing streaming platforms altogether. Instead, consumers could pay directly for their preferred content, rather than a specific platform.

No matter what happens to streaming in the future, it’s unlikely to remain unchanged. In many ways, the access we all have to excellent television, film, audiobooks, music, and the like is a first for humankind. Given the demand for such access, it’s likely there will continue to be a robust streaming market well into the future, but only time will tell.

Interested in weighing your cable TV and Internet options to get access to your favorite streaming content? SmartMove can help you get connected easily!
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