What Are You Streaming?

by , Feb 27, 2014, 8:00 AM
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Almost exactly seven years ago to the day, I wrote a piece for Media Daily News entitled “What’s On Your DVR?”  It looked at the behavioral impact of social viewing on TV, occurring as a result of the freedom DVRs provide to schedule personal and familial needs.
 
Today, the DVR is stronger than ever – a continually growing presence in our lives that is relied upon more than ever as a means of devouring our favorite programs.
 
But the field is not so open as it once was. The long-promised potential of VOD is finally starting to be realized at a meaningful level – prompted, in part, by the fact that measurement now makes it viable as an advertising platform.  Plus, streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu to name a few, have become a fixture.
 
At a purely behavioral level, while the increase in the number of time-shifting – or self-scheduling – options has increased, they haven’t resulted in any fundamental changes in how we select or view our programming. We’re still drawn to the same kind of material. We still look to view at times when it suits us for specific shows and when the others we wish to watch with are available.
 
Of course, what has changed is the sheer volume and variety of content available.

The DVR could only source content from the broadcast schedule across the channels within the cable or satellite package. But with the expansion of VOD, and especially with the addition of the streaming services via something like a Roku box, we can now source content that hasn’t been aired in years or even decades, as well as an array of documentaries and other features that have never seen the inside of a broadcast schedule (the TED Channel anyone?).
 
While the DVR remains a favorite – and even the primary – means of time-shifting for many, the newer streaming services are coming on strong. That's partly because there is a seemingly endless capacity (unlike the DVR) and partly because the prospect of discovering unfamiliar or unknown content is that much greater.
 
But what’s unclear at this stage is whether the ability to choose from a wider range of content than the broadcast schedule is actually impacting what we view.  Are we still watching the core offering of dramas, comedies and reality shows? Or have we branched out to include more classic series, documentary and niche movies than before?
 
The source of original programming (Netflix, Amazon) may have started to change, but has the profile of our personal content portfolio begun to evolve in line with what is available – and will it?
 
So to re-visit the question at the heart of my column seven years ago: What are you streaming now? Does it simply reflect a new means to access the same type of content you always did, or are you taking advantage of the opportunity to broaden your content portfolio?

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