Commentary

Premium Streamers Consider Movie,TV Genres Of Finicky Subscribers

We all know how rising streaming platforms have grown in popularity, due in part to the pandemic. But given the nuances in what consumers actually watch, streamers may be wondering what mix of content to increase.

At the beginning of the pandemic -- March 2020 -- streaming usage by consumers witnessed rising results from movies that boasted “family-friendly” content: documentary, family, animation, history and biography.

This data comes from Reelgood, the streaming discovery platform for TV and movies.

Things then dramatically shifted -- all due to pandemic restrictions easing -- to harder fare, such as action/adventure, thrillers, horror, and other edgy content.

What do consumers want now?

Streamers need to cover all content angles. They worry, increasingly, about “churn” -- monthly subscriber losses due to customers shifting to other platforms, primarily due to new movie or TV releases.

Also consider many new-ish premium streamers are still profit-losing businesses. While overall growth is expected, there has been a slowing of streaming viewing.

Deeper warnings also talk up possible contractions.

Already, there is talk of services merging -- such as the potential HBO Max and discovery+ as a result of Discovery Inc. intention to buy WarnerMedia. At the same time, smaller operations may -- after a time -- just stop.

In another part of the digital video world -- virtual pay TV providers -- we witnessed Sony’s Playstation Vue stop operations some years ago. For its part, AT&T ultimately folded virtual pay TV upstart DirecTV Now into other operations.

While much of this was due to steadily weakening subscribers and high wholesale carriage costs, some analysis also point to less compelling programming -- a la individual networks.

Adding new content -- especially new highly touted theatrically intended movie franchises, and new seasons of highly popular streaming TV series -- carry a lot of fussy streamers.

It used to be that legacy TV networks were known for their content -- perhaps Thursday comedies for NBC, crime-procedural series on CBS and edgy dramas on Fox. Of course, all networks have a mix of everything -- comedies, unscripted TV series, soap-ish dramas, and sports.

Starting out in the late 1980s/1990s, cable TV networks started out as a niche business. Now, do streamers also need to offer a specific programming angle to make an impact?

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