Play2Live is in a tremendous position to exploit the trend to VOD

To say that consumers have moved to VOD is perhaps an understatement. It might be more accurate to say that there’s a landslide.

And Play2Live is a gaming and eSports streaming company perfectly positioned to ride the wave of this huge trend.

This article aims to explain some of the technical jargon, identify market leaders and highlight the trends — and then to show just how well Play2Live is placed on the market.

Understanding VOD jargon

Linear vs non-linear TV

Linear is the term used to describe real-time TV, transmitting according to set schedules. Non-linear or VOD (video on demand) describes on-demand programming, available to view at any time.

OTT

The internet has proved to be a disruptive force for the distribution and consumption of media content. Most consumption is now via audio and video. Providers of over-the-top services (also called over-the-internet services) have driven the disruption. For example, YouTube and Netflix have replaced traditional TV and Skype has replaced long-distance telecoms providers. Some studies predict that by 2019, 80% of the total internet traffic will be online video. Millennials in particular have moved away from linear TV media towards internet and social networks.

Transactional Video on Demand (TVoD)

This is a “pay-as-you-view” model, with consumers paying for each individual item viewed, either through purchase or renting for a period of time. iTunes by Apple is a good example.

Subscription Video on Demand (SVoD)

This model provides a wide range of content to consumers, often in the form of packages, for a monthly subscription fee. The 3 biggest players are Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.

An interesting development in this space is the move away from licensed content towards originals. Netflix’s House of Cards and Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale are good examples. It is estimated that $10 billion per annum will be invested in the production of original content by 2022 — this is triple the current amount. Even Facebook and Apple seem to be investing in original TV-quality programmes, and Disney will be launching its own direct-to-consumer channels.

Virtual Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (vMVPDs)

vMVPDs aggregate live and on-demand linear television, but deliver the content directly to consumers over the internet, generally via internet-connected devices and with a subscription charge. Content owners can reach OTT users via these distributors.

Examples of vMVPDs and their owners include:

· Sling (Dish Network)

· DIRECTV NOW (AT&T)

· PlayStation™ Vue (Sony)

· YouTube Live (Google)

· Hulu Live (Disney)

· fuboTV (NY-based start-up, specializing in sports)

Internet-connected devices include

· Roku

· Apple TV

· Amazon Fire TV

· Gaming Consoles

· Various iOS and Android devices

One of the main selling points for these services is the “skinny bundle” — a reduced number of selected channels that consumers can purchase for less than they would pay for full bouquets from traditional TV. Consumers also don’t have to buy individual OTT programmes or apps from each content provider.

Key trends in VOD and OTT

Live streaming is gaining in strength.

It has been reported that at least 40% of millennials have created their own live videos, and about a third of internet users have streamed videos made by friends, family or celebrities. Celebrities and artists use live stream to connect directly with their fans.

The current leaders, Facebook and YouTube, are being challenged by rising numbers of video distributors and subscription channels. Even Twitter is wanting to be part of the trend and is partnering with the BBC for videos and news.

There is a move away from cable and satellite TV.

“Cord cutters” — customers moving away from traditional cable or satellite — and “cord nevers” — those who have never subscribed to pay TV — are moving to more flexible and affordable video offerings: to Netflix and Hulu for movie and TV formats; to Google, DirecTV and Sling TV for “skinny” packages of TV channels; and to Facebook, YouTube, PlayStation Vue and others for shorter programming.

In fact, according to analyses from MoffettNathanson Research and Leichtman Research Group, the number of households paying for cable or satellite dropped to 79% in 2017, down from 88% in 2010. More than 500 000 customers cut the cord in the fourth quarter of 2017 alone. Giant companies like Comcast and AT&T are down to about 83 million subscribers.

Netflix, on the other hand, doubled its subscriber base in the past five years, reached 100 million subscribers in the second quarter of 2017, and increased its annual revenue more than tenfold between 2005 and 2016. It has more subscribers in the US (>50 million) than the total for the top six cable TV companies (approx 48 Million).

The number of people signing up for “skinny” packages doubled in 2017 to 4.6 million, up from 2 million in 2016, and with Sling TV accounting for 2.2 million on its own.

There is significant growth in the value of the VOD market

The estimate is that the VOD market will be worth over $61 billion by 2019 — a CAGR of 19.4% from 2014. America remains the biggest market, but Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa are expected to grow significantly.

This growth has been driven by the number of devices that now support digital media, together with a significant increase in internet access speed. Consumers now have the option to access the media content of their own choice, whenever and wherever they like. Content includes information, entertainment and social activity.

A Cisco report predicts that by 2021 global internet traffic will be 127 times the volume of internet traffic in 2005, that broadband speeds will have doubled and that an individual would need 5 million years to watch all the videos that will be available every month.

Mobile devices are driving consumption

Mobile devices have become the preferred medium for music and video content. The smartphone market has grown exponentially, with a CAGR of 17%, compared to 9,5% for all other mobile devices. The growth in data traffic is even greater.

According to a Statista report, approximately 2.5 billion people — over a third of the world’s population — will own a smart phone in 2018, and this could nearly double in 2019. At the same time, data usage is expected to grow 10-fold from 2014. It is therefore easy for consumers to access music and videos.

Phones are being adapted specifically for gaming — providing high resolution displays, plenty of CPU and GPU, long battery life and extra features such as optional gamepads.

There is a shift in marketing and advertising spends towards digital media

Spending on digital media is expected to surpass TV advertising for the first time in 2018. And there is also a shift to spending on mobile rather than desktop devices. The split is currently 53% mobile to 43% desktop, with an expectation that up to 70% is likely to move towards mobile.

However, content creators are finding it increasingly difficult to make a living based on an ad-supported model. So, for example, streamers of video games are having to contend with their fans using ad blocks, and with an increasingly competitive environment, where the advertising cake must be cut into smaller and smaller pieces. They are looking for new ways to monetise their channels. This includes requests for donations, selling of branded merchandise, or working as influencers or affiliates for brands.

VOD and the gaming industry

The market is bigger than previous predictions

According to Newzoo, there were over 600 million viewers of gaming video streaming in 2017, with $116 billion in revenues. This is nearly 11% up on their earlier projections for 2017, and was largely as a result of significant growth in China and Japan.

It is useful to look at both the numbers of streamers and the numbers of concurrent viewers to get an idea of both the size and the growth of the market.

The following table shows the number of active live video game streamers on some of the major platforms, as at the start of 2018:

Table 1: Live Video Game Streamers Worldwide, Jan 2018

“Livestreaming Q4 Report” from Quantum stat based on the analysis by Streamlabs during Q4 2017

It is clear from the owner’s list that big players are involved in the gaming world. The biggest player is Twitch, owned by Amazon, but competitors with their own live video products include YouTube, owned by Google, Facebook Live, and Microsoft’s Mixer.

In March 2018, Twitch reported total concurrent viewers for various games. Fortnite was highest at nearly 860 thousand, followed by CS:GO at about 520 thousand and Dota 2 at just under 400 thousand.

Similarly, there has been significant growth in the number of concurrent streamers. Twitch reported an increase of 67% in Q3 of 2017, attributed to initiatives allowing smaller streamers to generate revenue through tipping, subscriptions and the sale of games. It is yet to be seen whether these additional streamers will push up the number of viewers.

The growth of competitive games — eSports

There is dramatic growth in the popularity of competitive online gaming. eSports is expected to hit $2.5 billion by 2020, a billion dollars more than NewZoo’s previous prediction. eSports is set to overtake revenues generated by the traditional sports industry. This growth is supported by the imminent launch of 5G for mobile devices and the growing availability and decreasing costs of devices that can support blu-ray and 4K screen resolution formats.

Prize pools for major games are growing exponentially, driven by crowdfunding. The Dota 2 International in 2017 had a prize pool of nearly $25 million. This should be compared to prize pools in major traditional sports like the Tour de France (less than $3million), the US Golf Open ($10 million), the cricket IPL ($8 million).

Associated with eSports is the growth of betting and gambling — either with “skins” (cosmetic items that change the look of players’ weapons) or with real money. According to some estimates, the 2016 global volume was about $600 million, and is estimated to reach more than $5 billion by 2020.

AR, 360°, and VR Videos are growing.

Virtual reality (VR) places you completely into a virtual world experience. Augmented reality (AR) overlays a virtual digital world on top of the real, physical world in front of you. So, for example, in the Jedi Challenges game, instead of the drones and storm troopers fighting on the computer screen, they seem to be fighting on your floor.

VR will not just be used for video games. Customers of online gaming operators will experience virtual casino experiences and will be totally immersed in online slot games.

One report predicts sales of nearly $10 million by 2020 for AR and VR headsets. Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion — clearly they had their eye on the growth of VR — and, according to Steam’s online store analytics, their VR headsets now represent nearly 50% of usage worldwide, recently edging HTC VIVE into second spot at 45%.

ARKit (from Apple) is a set of software development tools to build AR apps for iOS. ARCore (from Google) does the same for Android phones. This means that nearly everyone with a smart phone, for example an iPhone from version 6s or a Samsung Galaxy S8 or an LG G6, can experience AR, without any additional hardware. More and more people are gaming on their mobile phones and tablets, and this trend to AR is likely to grow.

The number of platforms for gaming is growing

Outside of the big names, multiple smaller platforms are emerging, and the use of blockchain to ensure security and transparency is a growing trend:

Steam is an online gaming and entertainment platform, providing access to thousands of games, videos and films, and with more than 270 million users. It rewards user generated content and players can earn trading cards and other in-game items. However, Steam is not blockchain-based, does not have an internal token and has a record of user accounts being hacked.

Flux, DLive and Crycash are blockchain-based and offer a variety of services, mostly focused on rewarding participants and preventing player churn.

Unikrn, eSports.com and Consortium focus on the betting and gambling side of eSports

Eloplay and FirstBlood encourage and set up tournaments for non-professional players

Opsports, DMarket and EnjinCoin are involved with trading of skins and in-game items

Network Units allows gamers to pool computing resources and unused bandwidth

Refereum rewards those who refer others to games, live streaming and videos

Game Machine provides crowdfunding and tokenization options for gamers, game developers and investors

As will be seen in the next section, Play2Live offers all of these services and more, and stands out as a platform for gamers and eSports fans.

Play2Live’s position in the VOD market

An interesting comment caught our eye:

“You know what was a great investment? Amazon stock in 1997, when it was priced at $18. Why did Amazon explode like that? It wasn’t just because the company is great at customer service or because it sells stuff people like. It’s because Amazon successfully plugged into a megatrend — people switching to shopping online.”

Play2Live may be worth watching for the same reason. It is plugging into not one, but several, megatrends:

· The switch to VOD, including VR

· The growth of gaming and eSports

· The growth of gambling and betting on games

· The move to blockchain and cryptocurrencies

Play2Live is the first full-blown blockchain-based streaming platform for gamers and eSports fans. It has recently completed an ICO, where it met its hard cap of $30 million, and can now focus on technical development, content generation, acquiring the rights to screen major tournaments and the practical needs of streamers, fans, tournament organizers and betting agents. It expects to have at least 10 million unique users per month by the end of the first year of operations.

The P2L platform (called Level Up Chain) provides a completely new level of virtual interaction for all participants — and provides a mechanism for monetization of every aspect of it. The currency within the system is a token called Level Up Coin (LUC). It is the medium of payment for all interaction on the platform and can be converted very easily to other cryptocurrencies or to fiat money through an internal exchange gateway.

Blockchain and tokenization are central to the P2L business model. Without them, the interactivity and monetization of activity on the platform would be impossible.

P2L solves many of the problems associated with creating and monetizing content. The platform will have 25 functional modules, 15 of which will generate revenue. Streamers can earn from 11 of them, and viewers can earn from 5.

The P2L platform broadens the interaction and establishes a fair and trustworthy economy for all participants of the system.

Streamers can earn money from their very first stream, regardless of the size of their following. They can interact with their audience, distribute prizes and gifts, sell badges of rank and skins, and implement marketing campaigns.

Viewers can influence the content of the streams. They can earn income through watching adverts, carrying out tasks set by streamers, voting, and sharing their computer resources. They can place bets with a variety of bookmakers without moving from the P2L site and can purchase games from outside suppliers, using LUC purchased or earned on the site.

eSports tournament organizers have 11 schemes for monetization on the platform. They can create unique content by setting up tournaments that exactly match the wishes of streamers and viewers. They can tap into the ready-made ticketing, crowdfunding, escrow, betting and totalizator systems.

Advertisers, bookmakers and suppliers of games are included in the P2L ecosystem and can earn revenue from the platform.

A competitor analysis shows why Play2Live really is the foremost streaming platform in the world. Existing streaming companies like Twitch.tv, YouTube and Steam are not really competitors. It would be prohibitively expensive for them to convert their current businesses into a “blockchain version”. Newer platforms, who do offer a blockchain option, cannot compare as none of them offer the full range of services available on the P2L platform.

So Play2Live may well be poised to be the next Amazon or Google of the gaming world!

You can read more about them here:

“Interactivity is what sets eSports platforms apart”

“Blockchain is the powerful disrupter that will drive eSports to the next level”

“Benefiting from the online gaming and eSports phenomenon”

“eSports — what are the new rules of the game for advertisers”

Stay tuned!

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