It’s hard to believe that Netflix was launched twenty years ago! Although they didn’t implement their current Streaming Video-on-Demand (SVOD) format until almost ten years later, that approach has changed the way we consume entertainment. In fact, TIFF 2018 will open with Netflix film Outlaw King, a period drama about Scottish hero Robert the Bruce, starring Star Trek’s Chris Pine. Streaming entertainment services have come a long way in a short time, changing and shaping the way we watch tv.
April 14, 1998 was the beginning of the end for video rental stores. At the time, it was common practice to spend an hour of your Friday or Saturday night combing through racks at the video store. Then came Netflix. Originally, this was an online catalogue of movies you would order and have sent to your house. The arrival of a crimson package was cause for excitement! You had a week to watch, and then you returned the DVD in the same red envelope. In Canada, Zip.ca was the most popular DVD-by-mail service.
In 2007 (2011 in Canada), Netflix.com became an SVOD and home entertainment changed forever. The service now has more than 117 million subscribers across nearly every country in the world, and employs more than 5,500 people. It generated more then $11 billion in revenue last year. But, hey, if you miss that DVD mail surprise, you can always order yourself a Friday night movie from Netflix’s still-functioning mail service.
Cable vs SVOD
Since 2013, increasing numbers of Canadians have cut the cord and said goodbye to cable. It’s projected that Canadian households with streaming service subscriptions will outnumber those with cable TV by the end of 2020. Many have found an online streaming service is a cheaper, more accessible option. The consumer is no longer beholden to a network that determines their tv watching schedule. The freedom to choose what to watch, when to watch it and how it’s delivered has wide appeal.
Content is king. Agile streaming platforms are responding to their audiences and providing more and more viewing options. Netflix now says that 80% of shows watched on the platform are driven by its recommendations, too. By keeping track of your viewing habits, Netflix can create a profile for you and others with similar viewing habits. These on-point suggestions keep you happy and keep you watching, which is the goal.
There are drawbacks to SVOD. Some streaming services require a cable subscription for access (see below). It’s also been noted that there are programming gaps. If you’re looking for the classics, you may want to stick with a specialty cable channel. And current cable programming can take some time to filter down to a streaming platform–spoiler alert!–or may only be available on the distributor’s associated streaming service.
If you’re looking for a streaming service in Canada, you have options. The whole point of SVOD is to cater to individual tastes, so there are a lot of niche services. And cable has responded to streaming services by offering home-grown options. If it all seems a little overwhelming, look here for a chart that nicely lays out cost, availability and content.
We’ve all been there. You sit down to watch ONE episode and five hours later you’re still on the couch. Whether is was a show that’s no longer in production (Friends) or you’re watching a newly-released season (Stranger Things 2), streaming content created a monster called bingeing. The practice has resulted in fan cults and the format of releasing and entire season at once has helped shows that otherwise may not have succeeded. Before the advent of SVOD, can you recall a time your planned your weekend around watching ten straight hours of television?
The bottom line is that people are hungry for video content. Facebook alone generates eight billion views on an average day. Whether it’s a Netflix movie or an explainer video, audiences are ready to engage through this medium. If you’re ready to connect with your target market, give us a call today.