While many large streaming services try to be everything to everyone by having enormous libraries of content, we are now seeing a new wave of OTT startups targeting more niche audiences. Karma, an over-the-top streaming service that founder Karam Hinduja describes as "The Economist for the next generation, on video," officially launches today.
2018 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for over-the-top video. Amazon and Netflix are ramping up their spending on original content, while OTT bundles from YouTube and Hulu are expected to make a big consumer push. Traditional television companies, meanwhile, are building out streaming services of their own.
Live sports, long the linchpin for the traditional television bundle, appear to be finally finding significant viewership online, if early data from this year's Major League Baseball playoffs and Amazon's "Thursday Night Football" simulcasts are any indication.
The video landscape is undergoing sea changes, and a lot of major players with deep pockets are trying to figure out how to compete. It's easy for us media industry folk to lose sight of the fact that roughly half of all TV households across the country have no DVR and half have no streaming services. And the number who have top-tier cable packages is declining. CBS All Access, Disney/ABC, and others are putting down markers, trying to gain a foothold into this new media world. There's more room for them to thrive than many seem to think.
My wife found it infuriating that CBS' new "Star Trek: Discovery" is so good. Having recently seen the series premiere on CBS, we can't watch subsequent episodes unless we subscribe to the CBS All Access streaming service.
On the cusp of the 2017-18 television season, Nielsen released an analysis indicating most of the video ad marketplace growth is coming not from linear TV, but from digital video ad spending. There's a 3.6% increase from the $59.0 billion advertisers spent on TV during the 2015-16 season, while digital video ad spending, by contrast, has expanded 26%, to $9.3 billion during the first half of 2017.
One reason Netflix continues to grow and thrive, aside from spending a significant amount on programming, is that it does not have the same constraints as ad-supported networks. It does not need to worry about average minute ratings, audience flow or demographics.
The media-buying industry has historically been described as one that "buys time and space." Ironically, neither is the norm. And that's not likely to change any time soon, if your believe what readers like you tell us about the future of audience metrics. Take a moment and dwell on that.
In late July YouTube, already the 800-lb. gorilla in video, raised its ambitions even more by offering its YouTube TV streaming service in another 10 U.S. markets. That makes a total of 15 YouTube TV markets. But with so much competition, will YouTube be the leader in attracting new and younger subscribers?
If live streams like the recent Comey hearing -- which drew 2.7 million unique viewers globally, according to Bloomberg -- are any indication, real-time events in conjunction with the social aspect of Twitter have a potent appeal. Beyond live streams, the digital video sandbox is getting crowded as Facebook, Snap, and Google have designs on the living room. Will Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix move out of the way? Doubtful.